Vermont Is One Signature Away From Legalizing Marijuana


Despite the support for the legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent out a federal memo this month that makes the future of cannabis in Massachusetts even more unsure.

On Jan. 4, 2018, only days after California's recreational marijuana law went into effect, the Justice Department issued the Sessions Memo, which revoked the Cole Memo and ordered federal officers to return to "well-established prosecutorial principles" and use "investigative and prosecutorial discretion" when deciding whether to enforce federal marijuana laws. And about 400 banks and credit unions, a lot of them small institutions operating in states where cannabis has been legalized, now do business with the US marijuana industry.

After Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his decision to rescind protections for state's with legalized marijuana, a handful of prominent Republicans came out and criticized the policy.

States' Rights - As of right now, 30 states allow marijuana use in some form and 8 allow recreational use. It would remove prohibitions on marijuana at the federal level, taking it off the list of prohibited substances in the Controlled Substances Act, and it would also create restrictions on interstate transport to states where the drug is not legal.

Federal officials are leaving how to enforce the new policy up to the US attorneys for each state, offering only the vague guidance that the attorneys should follow "well-established" principles. They argue that the department's decision has made even more urgent the need for congressional action to get the cash generated by this industry into a regulated banking sector.

As a longtime medical cannabis patient and activist, I've met and known many MS patients who have benefited greatly from cannabis.

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In a memo to the nation's 93 USA attorneys, Sessions said they could now individually decide whether to pursue marijuana cases in their jurisdictions.

Currently, eight licensed marijuana dispensaries exist within the state, with two licenses being issued to Big Island businesses in 2016. And on October 18, federal prosecutors in Washington State admitted that it prohibited them from prosecuting a group of medical growers known as the Kettle Falls Five. He adds, "Despite advances in our understanding of the medical benefits of marijuana, and despite 29 states having legalized medical marijuana in some form, federal law treats marijuana (as if it were) as risky as heroin".

Because the Obama-era policy was just that - a policy, not federal law - the next President and his Attorney General were free to change it.

The attorneys general across the nation are joining forces to urge Congress to do its job and pass legislation that would allow cannabis companies to access banks and other financial institutions.

I now believe enforcing law involves politicians picking and choosing targets that they support whether the laws are mandated by a court or the federal government. The grey market makes it more hard to track revenues for taxation purposes, contributes to a public safety threat as cash intensive businesses are often targets for criminal activity, and prevents proper tracking of large swaths of finances across the nation.

This makes banks less willing to provide services to businesses in the legalized medical or recreational marijuana industry, according to the letter. This includes a banking system for marijuana-related businesses that is both responsive and effective in meeting the demands of our economy.