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US AG Sessions Ends Hands Off on Marijuana

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When Sessions was appointed as Attorney General for the United States many wondered what approach the new AG would take on marijuana. Sessions is well known for his views against marijuana use. During the Obama administration Jim Cole, then Deputy AG, issued what became referred to as the “Cole memo” which took a hands-off approach by the Federal government to states that decriminalized or legalized marijuana. A majority of states currently allow medical use, while eight now allow for recreational use by adults. Currently Nevada has over 60 dispensaries from which over $13 million in taxes were collected during the first financial quarter they were open. The Nevada industry has over 6,700 jobs that pay an hourly wage greater than $19, according to the Nevada Dispensary Association. In a press release from Governor Sandoval he states, “Since Nevada voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016, I have called for a well-regulated, restricted and respected industry. My administration has worked to ensure these priorities are met while implementing the will of the voters and remaining within the guidelines of both the Cole and Wilkinson federal memos. We have been largely successful in these efforts. I believe Nevada’s marijuana industry is a model for other states. My staff and I will review the memo released this morning and our state options. I look forward to the appointment of the new Nevada United States Attorney and further guidance that will be provided by the Department of Justice.”

Under current Federal laws, pot has remained illegal.  The industry has enjoyed a decade in which it has flourished and grown.  Many states have created budgets based on the income that pot is estimated to donate to the coffers.  Areas that meet the requirements for growing the plant commercially have seen large increases in value.  Sessions decision comes one day after California, the world’s 6th largest economy, legalized recreational use.  It is unclear how this will affect the pot industry.  While the DOJ doesn’t have the resources to raid every dispensary in every state, it is theorized by some that well planned raids of a few growers and retailers could cripple the entire marijuana industry.