This past January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew an array of defenses that had been established through the Cole Memo. The Obama-era document provided protection to states voting to legalize the adult use of cannabis in controlled conditions. Through the memo, prosecutors were given a set of guidelines on how to operate in states that voted for legalization. These guidelines assured cultivation and dispensary owners protection from the feds randomly swooping in to shut down their operations.
Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO 2nd District) had been leading with measures to protect states’ rights long before the Cole Memo was rescinded. Together with Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA 4th District) they sponsored the McClintock-Polis Amendment. This would give the ‘lost’ protection back to businesses. Specifically, the amendment would give legal coverage to compliant cannabusinesses as well as individual users. The oppression that could hit businesses and individuals would be brought on by federal agencies funded by the Department of Justice, i.e. the DEA, US Marshals, and the FBI. Congressman Polis would like to prevent this by placing the proposed amendment into the 2019 fiscal budget.
On March 15th there was a letter sent to the House subcommittee that has been signed by 58 representatives who support the McClintock-Polis Amendment. McClintock and Polis claim that if the federal government were to intervene in any of the legalized cannabis states, this would violate the Tenth Amendment. The Tenth Amendment outlines the guidelines of what powers the states have over federal rule, and vice versa. It is a balance of power between the two which is what is being highlighted here.
Some may question the importance of this right now being that there haven’t been any recent raids or shut downs of compliant cannabusinesses. Robert Troyer is the U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado. He has informed lawmakers that prosecutors won’t change the way they handle cannabis prosecutions, despite the wording of the new Sessions memo.
Polis would like to get that agreement in writing. He said in a recent statement…”I’m excited to introduce a bipartisan amendment with Representative McClintock, which would prohibit the Department of Justice from using federal resources to interfere with legal medical and recreational marijuana activities. As I have promised my fellow Coloradans, I will continue to advocate for this simple amendment to be added to the federal budget — shielding Colorado from the Trump administration’s attacks on states that have legalized marijuana.” If this measure is to pass, many other legalized states will surely follow suit and adopt the same measures.
By Tracy Jerome Chisley (@PoeticPanther)
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