January 4, 2018
In a surprise move this morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made the public aware that he will be rescinding the Cole Memo later on today; an important Obama era document that directed U.S. attorneys from seeking federal legal action against individuals and businesses who engage in marijuana activities (except for some very specific circumstances) in states where medical and/or recreational marijuana is legal by state law.
The rescinding of the Cole Memo makes the legal landscape for marijuana businesses and enthusiasts more murky. Between 2013, when the Cole memo was issued, and today, the rules of marijuana use and marijuana related businesses exposure to federal prosecution was logically defined by a number of clearly defined boundaries in the memo. As of today, those boundaries will no longer exist and what new boundaries might come to bear by Sessions will need to be closely watched in the coming months. Predicting how the boundaries may be defined in the future is further complicated by a historical pattern of Trump and Sessions disagreeing and Trump’s own statements about wanting to find a better solution than existing legal guidance. In the interim, it will be up to the U.S. Attorneys to decide whether to pursue federal prosecution where they have jurisdiction of federal marijuana laws.
In what might not be a coincidence, it was just yesterday that Attorney General Sessions appointed 17 new interim U.S. Attorneys across the United States. The appointments follow the termination of state attorneys general across the United States by the Trump administration in February and the lapse of a 300 day window to appoint new U.S. Attorneys in their place which expired yesterday. The 17 U.S. Attorneys that Attorney General Sessions appointed have to be vetted and approved within a 200 day window before their positions are permanent.
An initial view of the Cole Memo being rescinded and its impact would allow those individuals using medical marijuana greater comfort because of other existing laws that protect them under a provision called the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. This provision prevents federal prosecution of medical marijuana use in well-regulated state markets. That said, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment may come under fire next. The integrity of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment is predicated on federal funding, or in this case, the lack thereof, and should the budgeting strategy change under the current administration, medical marijuana use and the businesses that support it could be further endangered.
Whether the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment that protects medical marijuana patients is going to be effected during the federal budget process in the future is speculative and we are watching the situation carefully. Canna Care Doctors (cannacaredocs.com), the largest provider of medical marijuana recommendations in the country, continues to provide its legal medical consultative services to its patients in need. The rescinding of the Cole Memo does not change Canna Care Docs ability to continue to deliver its exceptional services to its clients or patients who benefit from the medicinal value of medical marijuana when receiving its benefits under the protective umbrella of medical marijuana certificates.
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