All posts tagged: politics

Top Senate Democrat Endorses Decriminalizing Marijuana at the Federal Level

The push to decriminalize marijuana has picked up another high-profile backer — Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer — just a week after President Donald Trump endorsed letting states decide how to regulate the drug.

"I’ll be introducing legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level from one end of the country to the other," Schumer, of New York, told Vice News in an interview airing Thursday evening. "I’ve seen too many people’s lives ruined because they had small amounts of marijuana and served time in jail much too long."

Schumer’s backing of decriminalization adds to what has become a bipartisan effort in the Senate, led by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, which was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. Marijuana currently is legal for medicinal use in 29 states and for recreational use in eight.

Trump’s promise to let states handle the issue caused pot-related stocks to spike. It also eased the threat that the Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions — a staunch foe of legalization — would step up enforcement of federal prohibitions on sales and use of marijuana in states like Colorado.

Gardner separately said in an interview Wednesday he is 80 percent finished with legislation he is writing to ensure states don’t run afoul of the federal prohibition on marijuana and to allow marijuana businesses access to the financial system.

It’s not clear, however, when or if such a bill might move. In the meantime Schumer’s backing could help Democrats, given that polls have increasingly shown a strong majority backing legalization.

Previous efforts to expand an existing appropriations rider protecting state-licensed medical-marijuana operations failed.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

Marissa SafontTop Senate Democrat Endorses Decriminalizing Marijuana at the Federal Level
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Ex-Speaker John Boehner Joins Marijuana Firms Advisory Board

  • Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld also added
  • Watershed moment for cannabis as drug goes mainstream

The U.S. marijuana industry has a new spokesman: John Boehner.

The Republican former Speaker of the House has joined the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a company that cultivates, processes and dispenses cannabis in 11 U.S. states. Boehner’s endorsement, after saying nine years ago he was “unalterably opposed” to legalization, could be considered a watershed event: Marijuana has gone mainstream.

“Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically,” he said in an interview. “I find myself in that same position.”

Sixty-four percent of Americans, including a majority of both Republicans and Democrats, want to legalize it, according to an October Gallup survey. That’s the most since the pollster began asking the question in 1969, when 12 percent of the population favored legalization.

Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld will join Boehner on the advisory board of Acreage, which holds 35 licenses for cannabis businesses in the U.S. Boehner, 68, was first elected to the House of Representatives from Southwest Ohio in 1990. He was Speaker from 2011 to 2015, when he resigned amid problems with an increasingly fractious Republican caucus.

Since then, he’s served as a board member for tobacco company Reynolds American Inc. and adviser for global law firm Squire Patton Boggs US LLP. Weld, 72, who was governor from 1991 to 1997, was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for vice president in 2016.

‘Immensely Positive’

“We view this advocacy that we get from these two gentlemen as immensely positive for the industry,” said George Allen, Acreage’s president.

The politicians are a sign of a watershed moment for the industry, according to Vahan Ajamian, an analyst at Beacon Securities Ltd.

“It is difficult to overstate the impact of this monumental event for the U.S. cannabis sector,” he said in a note Wednesday after Bloomberg broke the news.

The two former Republican politicians join Acreage as current officeholders vacillate on their support for weed. President Donald Trump has gone back and forth, while Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a longtime opponent. The Justice Department in January rescinded the Obama-era policies that allowed state legal pot markets to flourish.

Both Boehner and Weld say they’ve never tried the drug, but adult recreational use is legal in nine states and Washington, D.C. That means more than one in five American adults can partake. Twenty additional states allow for some form of medical marijuana. The legal market is expected to reach $75 billion by 2030, according to the investment bank Cowen & Co.

Still, the drug remains federally illegal and is classified as a Schedule I narcotic, the harshest of five government ratings.

Supported Referendum

Weld said he’s been in favor of medical marijuana since 1992 and supported the referendum that legalized recreational pot use in his home state in 2016.

“I was a little bit ahead of the field there,” he said in an interview.

Even so, his belief in the functionality of the plant has grown, he said, especially when it comes to easing the opioid crisis.

“Cannabis could be perceived as an exit drug, not a gateway drug,” he said.

Boehner said his perspective shifted after he saw the plant’s efficacy in helping a close friend deal with debilitating back pain. Marijuana’s potential use as a treatment for veterans helped sway him, too. Plus he’s been studying the problems of the U.S. criminal justice system for years.

“When you look at the number of people in our state and federal penitentiaries, who are there for possession of small amounts of cannabis, you begin to really scratch your head,” Boehner said. “We have literally filled up our jails with people who are nonviolent and frankly do not belong there.”

10th Amendment

On top of all those reasons to support the plant, Boehner and Weld say the debate over legalization is, at its core, a discussion of the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which allows states to do what they want.

“If some states don’t want marijuana to be legal, that’s their prerogative,” Weld said. “But that shouldn’t be dictated by the nanny state in Washington.”

Despite the GOP mostly lauding the amendment, Republican politicians have been split on the cannabis issue. Sessions’ harsh words for marijuana, and his decision to roll back Obama-era protections, didn’t deter Boehner or Weld’s decisions to get involved with the industry, they said.

“When I saw the announcement, I almost chuckled to myself,” Boehner said, referring to the policy reversal. “I don’t know why they decided to do this. It could be that the attorney general is trying to force the Congress to act.”

Winding Road

The politicians’ years in public office may help the company navigate the winding road to federal legalization.

“When it comes to an issue like this, that has what I’ll call murky legal issues and political issues, we’re there to provide advice to Acreage in terms of how they work with state and federal governments, how they work with local governments and advice on what states look promising,” Boehner said.

Neither Boehner nor Weld has made a financial investment in Acreage, though Weld says he’s considering it.

“Millennials who will inherit the kingdom before long, they are even more positive about cannabis than the populous at large,” Weld said. “You can look at the trend of millennial opinion and you can see the future.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

Marissa SafontEx-Speaker John Boehner Joins Marijuana Firms Advisory Board
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Trump Backs State-Level Marijuana Regulation, Lifting Pot Stocks

Trump Backs State-Level Marijuana Regulation, Lifting Pot Stocks

Updated on
  • Colorado’s Gardner says he received assurances from president
  • White House spokeswoman says Gardner statement ‘accurate’

President Donald Trump endorsed letting states decide how to regulate marijuana, in a major boost for the legal pot industry.

Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner said that as a result of Trump’s assurances, he’ll end a blockade of Justice Department nominees. Gardner held up the nominees after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an earlier Justice Department memo that shielded marijuana operations in states like Colorado from enforcement of the federal ban on the drug.

"Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states’ rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana," Gardner said in a statement Friday. “President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Gardner’s statement is “accurate.” She didn’t elaborate.

“The president did speak with Senator Gardner yesterday and again today,” Sanders told reporters Friday at the White House, adding, "the president is a firm believer" in states’ rights.

Marijuana is legal for medicinal use in 29 states and for recreational use in eight.

Marijuana stocks surged on the news, which removed the threat posed by Sessions’s decision in January to rescind an Obama-era policy that helped states legalize recreational pot.

Canada’s Canopy Growth Corp., the largest cannabis producer by market value, jumped as much as 11 percent in its biggest intraday advance since March 5. Medical-marijuana supplier Aphria Inc. climbed as much as 21 percent in Toronto trading.

Gardner said he’s lifting his hold and working with colleagues on legislation that would protect marijuana operations in states that have legalized the drug. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump offered qualified support for legalization while on the presidential campaign trail, saying that medical marijuana “should happen” and that laws regarding recreational usage should be left in the hands of the states.

Sessions, on the other hand, has been an outspoken opponent of state marijuana laws.

The Justice Department under President Barack Obama created guardrails for federal prosecution of the sale and possession of cannabis, which remains illegal under federal law, and allowed legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country. Under Sessions’s approach, U.S. attorneys in states where pot is legal were given approval to prosecute cases where they see fit.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

Marissa SafontTrump Backs State-Level Marijuana Regulation, Lifting Pot Stocks
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Marijuana legalization by the numbers

Washington (CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he is rolling back Obama-era guidelines that stopped the federal government from enforcing its anti-marijuana laws in states that have marijuana-friendly laws, CNN reported Thursday.

The change, depending on how it is administered, could affect states that have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use — and would go against strong public opinion backing federal deference to state rules.
Federal law says marijuana is illegal, but a majority of states and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing or decriminalizing its use for medical reasons. Fewer states have made it legal for recreational purposes, although with California’s official legalization of recreational marijuana in the new year, Sessions’ move could set up a legal showdown between the federal government and the largest and richest US state.
    Eight states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — plus the District of Columbia allow recreational sales of marijuana. Another 22 states allow only some form of medical marijuana and 15 allow a lesser medical marijuana extract.
    Five years ago, recreational marijuana wasn’t legal anywhere in the United States.
    A broad 64% of Americans say they support the legalization of marijuana, according to a Gallup poll in October — the highest mark in more than four decades of polling.
    The poll shows legalization has support from 72% of Democrats — up from 61% over the last three years — and even a slim majority, 51%, of Republicans — up from just 34% in the same time span.
    Medical marijuana, for its part, has nearly universal support in the United States, according to an August poll from Quinnipiac University. An overwhelming 94% of adults — including 96% of independents, 95% of Democrats and 90% of Republicans — support it.
    A broad three in four Americans, 75%, say they oppose enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized medical or recreational use of the drug, according to the same poll. Republicans are most likely to back enforcing federal laws anyway — but that number is still just one in three.
    The latest numbers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that 44% of Americans over the age of 12 have used marijuana at least once in their lifetime. A majority, 52%, of people ages 18 to 25 have used it in their lifeline, including 33% in just the last 12 months.
    Legal pot has grown to a $6.6 billion industry, with seven in 10 dollars going for medical marijuana and three in 10 going for recreational marijuana. The overall industry has been projected to quadruple over the next decade, according to New Frontier Data, a research company that analyzes the marijuana industry.

    Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

    Marissa SafontMarijuana legalization by the numbers
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    Ron Paul: Jeff Sessions should be fired over marijuana decision

    (CNN)Ron Paul, the former GOP congressman and onetime presidential candidate, called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step down Saturday after he moved this week to rescind the Obama-era policy of restricting federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states where the drug is legal.

    Currently, recreational marijuana is legal in eight states and the District of Columbia. Twenty-two states also allow some form of medical marijuana, and 15 allow a lesser medical marijuana extract.
    Paul told CNN’s Michael Smerconish that Americans should have a choice on marijuana use, and he called Sessions’ actions “unconstitutional.”
      “He represents something that is so un-American, as far as I’m concerned,” the Texas libertarian said.
      “The war on drugs, to me, is a war on liberty. I think that we overly concentrate on the issue of the drug itself, and I concentrate on the issue of freedom of choice, on doing things that are of high risk,” he said. “And we permit high risk all the time. … Generally, we allow people to eat what they want, and that is very risky. But we do overly concentrate on what people put into their bodies.”
      Paul called the war on drugs a “totally illegal system.”
      “Just because you legalize something doesn’t mean everyone’s going to do it, and then if you look at the consequences, of the war? Why don’t the people just look and read and study Prohibition? … (a) total failure. And the war on drugs is every bit as bad and worse,” he said.
      “People should have the right or responsibility of dealing with what is dangerous,” Paul insisted. “Once you get into this thing about government is going to protect us against ourselves, there’s no protection of liberty.”
      However, he said, he didn’t expect Sessions to be successful.
      “I predict that Sessions is not going to be victorious on this,” Paul told Smerconish.
      “And unfortunately, it’s for reasons that I don’t get excited about. It’s because the states want to collect all of those taxes (on marijuana), so it becomes this tax issue,” he said.

      Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

      Marissa SafontRon Paul: Jeff Sessions should be fired over marijuana decision
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      Sessions nixes Obama-era rules leaving states alone that legalize pot

      (CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday rescinded a trio of memos from the Obama administration that had adopted a policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws.

      The move essentially shifts federal policy from the hands-off approach adopted under the previous administration to unleashing federal prosecutors across the country to decide individually how to prioritize resources to crack down on pot possession, distribution and cultivation of the drug in states where it is legal.
      While many states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana use, the drug is still illegal under federal law, creating a conflict between federal and state law. Thursday’s announcement is a major decision for an attorney general who has regularly decried marijuana use as dangerous.
        In a written statement Thursday, Sessions called the shift a “return to the rule of law” but he did not go as far as some advocates had feared he might, stopping short of explicitly directing more prosecutions, resources or other efforts to take down the industry as a whole.
        “In deciding which marijuana activities to prosecute under these laws with the department’s finite resources, prosecutors should follow the well-established principles that govern all federal prosecutions,” Sessions said in a memo to all federal prosecutors. “These principles require federal prosecutors deciding which cases to prosecute to weigh all relevant considerations of the crime, the deterrent effect of criminal prosecution, and the cumulative impact of particular crimes on the community.”
        The former senior Justice Department official behind the decision to harmonize federal prosecutions with state legalization efforts during the Obama told CNN in a phone interview Thursday that it’s uncertain how Sessions’ new memo will play out at the state level.
        “The whole point was to do what we could to maintain some control in this area,” said Jim Cole, former deputy attorney general and now a partner at Sidley Austin in Washington.
        Back in 2013, as an increasing number of states began to legalize marijuana, Cole released a directive to federal prosecutors that essentially adopted a policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws.
        In what became colloquially known as the “Cole memo,” the department recognized that the drug was still illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act but gave federal prosecutors permission to focus their resources elsewhere, so long as the states didn’t threaten other federal priorities, such as preventing the distribution of the drug to minors and targeting cartels.
        “The memo set out harms we saw associated with marijuana” but essentially said that otherwise “let’s let the states deal with this,” Cole told CNN. “Given a non-perfect situation, we figured this was the best way to deal with it.”
        The new memo likely “reduces the level of comfort in the industry until it sees how US attorneys actually implement it,” Cole added. “Each US attorney now gets to decide what will and will not be prosecuted. We’ll have to see how it plays out. … There was a previously a higher level of reliability that you could operate your industry if you followed certain rules. That’s not necessarily being destroyed, but it is being thrown into question.”
        The US Attorney’s Office in Colorado released a statement Thursday saying there are no plans to change marijuana prosecutions:
        “Today the Attorney General rescinded the Cole Memo on marijuana prosecutions, and directed that federal marijuana prosecution decisions be governed by the same principles that have long governed all of our prosecution decisions. The United States Attorney’s Office in Colorado has already been guided by these principles in marijuana prosecutions — focusing in particular on identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our communities around the state. We will, consistent with the Attorney General’s latest guidance, continue to take this approach in all of our work with our law enforcement partners throughout Colorado.”

        Congress, industry alarmed

        Sessions’ shift at the Justice Department comes days after marijuana became officially legal under laws in California, the largest state. Voters in California approved the measure in November 2016, but the legal, commercial sale of marijuana under state law just went into effect with the new year.
        A majority of states allow the use of medical marijuana and eight, including the entire West Coast and the District of Columbia, allow recreational use.
        When asked whether the Justice Department was considering suing states that attempt to legalize the drug after this new policy has gone into effect, one senior Justice official said, “Further steps are still under consideration.”
        The immediate reaction to Thursday’s news from the marijuana industry and some members of Congress was alarm.
        Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, tweeted that the issue “must be left up to the states,” ran counter to what he had been previously told by Sessions and threatened to hold up confirmation of DOJ nominees.
        Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden from Oregon, where marijuana is also legal, similarly blasted the move.
        “Trump promised to let states set their own marijuana policies. Now he’s breaking that promise so Jeff Sessions can pursue his extremist anti-marijuana crusade. Once again the Trump administration is doubling down on protecting states’ rights only when they believe the state is right,” Wyden said in a statement.
        One issue that may be potentially litigated is how the new memo affects medical versus recreational marijuana use.
        Congress voted in its last session to extend a spending provision known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which blocks the Justice Department from using federal funds to impede the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.
        Sessions’ new memo does not explicitly set forth how prosecutors should treat medical marijuana, though a senior Justice official explained that prosecutors wouldn’t do anything contrary to any current federal law. The open question is how broadly or narrowly that appropriations rider may be interpreted down the line, as it is an unsettled issue in the federal courts.

        Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

        Marissa SafontSessions nixes Obama-era rules leaving states alone that legalize pot
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        Marijuana legalization by the numbers

        Washington (CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he is rolling back Obama-era guidelines that stopped the federal government from enforcing its anti-marijuana laws in states that have marijuana-friendly laws, CNN reported Thursday.

        The change, depending on how it is administered, could affect states that have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use — and would go against strong public opinion backing federal deference to state rules.
        Federal law says marijuana is illegal, but a majority of states and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing or decriminalizing its use for medical reasons. Fewer states have made it legal for recreational purposes, although with California’s official legalization of recreational marijuana in the new year, Sessions’ move could set up a legal showdown between the federal government and the largest and richest US state.
          Eight states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — plus the District of Columbia allow recreational sales of marijuana. Another 22 states allow only some form of medical marijuana and 15 allow a lesser medical marijuana extract.
          Five years ago, recreational marijuana wasn’t legal anywhere in the United States.
          A broad 64% of Americans say they support the legalization of marijuana, according to a Gallup poll in October — the highest mark in more than four decades of polling.
          The poll shows legalization has support from 72% of Democrats — up from 61% over the last three years — and even a slim majority, 51%, of Republicans — up from just 34% in the same time span.
          Medical marijuana, for its part, has nearly universal support in the United States, according to an August poll from Quinnipiac University. An overwhelming 94% of adults — including 96% of independents, 95% of Democrats and 90% of Republicans — support it.
          A broad three in four Americans, 75%, say they oppose enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized medical or recreational use of the drug, according to the same poll. Republicans are most likely to back enforcing federal laws anyway — but that number is still just one in three.
          The latest numbers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that 44% of Americans over the age of 12 have used marijuana at least once in their lifetime. A majority, 52%, of people ages 18 to 25 have used it in their lifeline, including 33% in just the last 12 months.
          Legal pot has grown to a $6.6 billion industry, with seven in 10 dollars going for medical marijuana and three in 10 going for recreational marijuana. The overall industry has been projected to quadruple over the next decade, according to New Frontier Data, a research company that analyzes the marijuana industry.

          Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

          Marissa SafontMarijuana legalization by the numbers
          read more

          Ron Paul: Jeff Sessions should be fired over marijuana decision

          (CNN)Ron Paul, the former GOP congressman and onetime presidential candidate, called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step down Saturday after he moved this week to rescind the Obama-era policy of restricting federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states where the drug is legal.

          Currently, recreational marijuana is legal in eight states and the District of Columbia. Twenty-two states also allow some form of medical marijuana, and 15 allow a lesser medical marijuana extract.
          Paul told CNN’s Michael Smerconish that Americans should have a choice on marijuana use, and he called Sessions’ actions “unconstitutional.”
            “He represents something that is so un-American, as far as I’m concerned,” the Texas libertarian said.
            “The war on drugs, to me, is a war on liberty. I think that we overly concentrate on the issue of the drug itself, and I concentrate on the issue of freedom of choice, on doing things that are of high risk,” he said. “And we permit high risk all the time. … Generally, we allow people to eat what they want, and that is very risky. But we do overly concentrate on what people put into their bodies.”
            Paul called the war on drugs a “totally illegal system.”
            “Just because you legalize something doesn’t mean everyone’s going to do it, and then if you look at the consequences, of the war? Why don’t the people just look and read and study Prohibition? … (a) total failure. And the war on drugs is every bit as bad and worse,” he said.
            “People should have the right or responsibility of dealing with what is dangerous,” Paul insisted. “Once you get into this thing about government is going to protect us against ourselves, there’s no protection of liberty.”
            However, he said, he didn’t expect Sessions to be successful.
            “I predict that Sessions is not going to be victorious on this,” Paul told Smerconish.
            “And unfortunately, it’s for reasons that I don’t get excited about. It’s because the states want to collect all of those taxes (on marijuana), so it becomes this tax issue,” he said.

            Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

            Marissa SafontRon Paul: Jeff Sessions should be fired over marijuana decision
            read more

            Sessions nixes Obama-era rules leaving states alone that legalize pot

            (CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday rescinded a trio of memos from the Obama administration that had adopted a policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws.

            The move essentially shifts federal policy from the hands-off approach adopted under the previous administration to unleashing federal prosecutors across the country to decide individually how to prioritize resources to crack down on pot possession, distribution and cultivation of the drug in states where it is legal.
            While many states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana use, the drug is still illegal under federal law, creating a conflict between federal and state law. Thursday’s announcement is a major decision for an attorney general who has regularly decried marijuana use as dangerous.
              In a written statement Thursday, Sessions called the shift a “return to the rule of law” but he did not go as far as some advocates had feared he might, stopping short of explicitly directing more prosecutions, resources or other efforts to take down the industry as a whole.
              “In deciding which marijuana activities to prosecute under these laws with the department’s finite resources, prosecutors should follow the well-established principles that govern all federal prosecutions,” Sessions said in a memo to all federal prosecutors. “These principles require federal prosecutors deciding which cases to prosecute to weigh all relevant considerations of the crime, the deterrent effect of criminal prosecution, and the cumulative impact of particular crimes on the community.”
              The former senior Justice Department official behind the decision to harmonize federal prosecutions with state legalization efforts during the Obama told CNN in a phone interview Thursday that it’s uncertain how Sessions’ new memo will play out at the state level.
              “The whole point was to do what we could to maintain some control in this area,” said Jim Cole, former deputy attorney general and now a partner at Sidley Austin in Washington.
              Back in 2013, as an increasing number of states began to legalize marijuana, Cole released a directive to federal prosecutors that essentially adopted a policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws.
              In what became colloquially known as the “Cole memo,” the department recognized that the drug was still illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act but gave federal prosecutors permission to focus their resources elsewhere, so long as the states didn’t threaten other federal priorities, such as preventing the distribution of the drug to minors and targeting cartels.
              “The memo set out harms we saw associated with marijuana” but essentially said that otherwise “let’s let the states deal with this,” Cole told CNN. “Given a non-perfect situation, we figured this was the best way to deal with it.”
              The new memo likely “reduces the level of comfort in the industry until it sees how US attorneys actually implement it,” Cole added. “Each US attorney now gets to decide what will and will not be prosecuted. We’ll have to see how it plays out. … There was a previously a higher level of reliability that you could operate your industry if you followed certain rules. That’s not necessarily being destroyed, but it is being thrown into question.”
              The US Attorney’s Office in Colorado released a statement Thursday saying there are no plans to change marijuana prosecutions:
              “Today the Attorney General rescinded the Cole Memo on marijuana prosecutions, and directed that federal marijuana prosecution decisions be governed by the same principles that have long governed all of our prosecution decisions. The United States Attorney’s Office in Colorado has already been guided by these principles in marijuana prosecutions — focusing in particular on identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our communities around the state. We will, consistent with the Attorney General’s latest guidance, continue to take this approach in all of our work with our law enforcement partners throughout Colorado.”

              Congress, industry alarmed

              Sessions’ shift at the Justice Department comes days after marijuana became officially legal under laws in California, the largest state. Voters in California approved the measure in November 2016, but the legal, commercial sale of marijuana under state law just went into effect with the new year.
              A majority of states allow the use of medical marijuana and eight, including the entire West Coast and the District of Columbia, allow recreational use.
              When asked whether the Justice Department was considering suing states that attempt to legalize the drug after this new policy has gone into effect, one senior Justice official said, “Further steps are still under consideration.”
              The immediate reaction to Thursday’s news from the marijuana industry and some members of Congress was alarm.
              Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, tweeted that the issue “must be left up to the states,” ran counter to what he had been previously told by Sessions and threatened to hold up confirmation of DOJ nominees.
              Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden from Oregon, where marijuana is also legal, similarly blasted the move.
              “Trump promised to let states set their own marijuana policies. Now he’s breaking that promise so Jeff Sessions can pursue his extremist anti-marijuana crusade. Once again the Trump administration is doubling down on protecting states’ rights only when they believe the state is right,” Wyden said in a statement.
              One issue that may be potentially litigated is how the new memo affects medical versus recreational marijuana use.
              Congress voted in its last session to extend a spending provision known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which blocks the Justice Department from using federal funds to impede the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.
              Sessions’ new memo does not explicitly set forth how prosecutors should treat medical marijuana, though a senior Justice official explained that prosecutors wouldn’t do anything contrary to any current federal law. The open question is how broadly or narrowly that appropriations rider may be interpreted down the line, as it is an unsettled issue in the federal courts.

              Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

              Marissa SafontSessions nixes Obama-era rules leaving states alone that legalize pot
              read more

              The NFL can’t ignore its players’ activism any more

              Image: Getty Images

              With the NFL a day away from the kickoff of its 2017 season, a definite question has emerged: Is this the year that the NFL finally embraces athletic activism the way the NBA does?

              The examples are adding up on a nearly daily basis. A week of preseason football couldn’t go by without players making statements. Members of the Cleveland Browns knelt during the anthem. Michael Bennett sat out the anthem while his white teammate, Justin Britt, placed his hand on Bennett’s shoulder in a show of solidarity. Bennett’s brother, Martellus, made a political cartoon mocking the “stick to sports” mantra and posted it on Instagram. Following the neo-Nazi riots in Charlottesville, Malcolm Jenkins stood for the national anthem with one fist raised, while his white teammate Chris Long put his arm around his shoulder, in a plea for racial unity. In a similar gesture, Derek Carr placed his hand on Khalil Mack’s back during the national anthem.

              These can be considered small gestures, but in the NFL, they speak loudly. 

              Just ask Colin Kaepernick. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback kneeled during the national anthem before games last year as an act of protest against institutional racism in the United States in regards to police brutality and mass incarceration. Kaepernick’s actions become a national flashpoint, as athletes in multiple sports, former and current presidents, actors and artists alike chimed in. 

              Not everyone was on board. Some fans even started a campaign to boycott the NFL. After opting out of his contract with the 49ers this offseason, Kaepernick has not been able to find work in the NFL. He has been passed over in favor of a retiree, fringe college prospects, even a real estate agent. The situation has led to rumors that Kaepernick is being blackballed in a concerted effort to keep him off the field. At the least, there are allegations that certain owners and general managers would like to make an example out of him.

              Kaepernick’s struggle speaks to just how little the NFL has tolerated activism. But if his tribulations have been an effort to keep Kaepernick’s message from spreading within the NFL, they should be considered a failure. Despite the precarious situation Kaepernick finds himself in, activism is now far from the exception.

              And with Week 1 of the NFL season about to start, the expectation for more is palpable. For every fan that turns the TV off at the sight of an athlete kneeling before the flag, there is a concerned citizen marching to the NFL’s headquarters in New York and demanding an explanation. Another one buys a Kaepernick jersey, which remain popular even though he’s not in the league. The NFL, it appears, does not wish to cater to this particular demographic but they, like the athletes the NFL employs, have made this much clear: The more the NFL tries to pretend the people who support Kaepernick are irrelevant or simply don’t exist, the louder they’ll get—all the while assuaging concerns that Kaepernick would be a financial liability for ticket sales. 

              For two years in a row, despite the league’s best efforts, social activism and racism are going to be the off-field story of the NFL season. And it’s starting to follow what’s happened in the NBA.

              In profession basketball, activism isn’t the exception among its starts—it’s now the expectation. Examples are almost too numerous list, but here’s a sampling: Last year, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul donned all black on at the ESPYs aware show to discuss gun violence and racial profiling, and implored other athletes to get educated and involved. Anthony even marched with protesters in Baltimore, where he grew up, following the death of 25-year-old black man Freddie Gray, in the back of a police van. Just this offseason, Kevin Durant said he would not go to the White House if the Golden State Warriors were invited, a long-standing tradition for NBA champions. He also voiced disrespect for the current administration. 

              Durant could speak out against Trump and trust that he could have the support of the majority of his fans, the NBA’s commissioner, Adam Silver, and his locker room, headed by coach Steve Kerr, who publicly made his opinions on this administration clear. There is a great deal of organizational unity and progressive political thinking in the NBA, which makes it easier for players to speak up. They’re also more financially secure, with guaranteed contracts and higher salaries. And the NBA’s fanbase skews younger, more diverse, and more progressive. Social activism, for NBA players, might even be more profitable than silence. 

              All which is to say that NFL players will likely always face impediments that NBA players won’t, but that hasn’t stopped them from exerting their power like never before. 

              2016 was the year that everything converged. Social media collided with the specter of the presidency of Donald Trump, and all the while videos of violent, racist police brutality sprung up alongside protests, alongside an ugly, once-quieter call for white supremacy. There wasn’t a single social media platform in which racists didn’t congregate publicly, espousing retrograde views on their perception of inherent superiority. As a result, race and politics have leaked into every aspect of our culture. Today, to be a modern content consumer is to have an acute understanding of the phrase, “everything is political.” 

              For a professional black athlete, with a platform that—at the click of a button—can morph into a formidable pulpit, heeding the old mantra “stick to sports” has become an impossible proposition. This NFL season will be a battle for the life and death of that mantra, for the insistence that black athletes should no longer have to serve as an on-field distraction from the very issues that are vital to their survival off the field—a battle over personal dignity and self-expression, for the right of an athlete to never have to choose between his life and his livelihood, like Kaepernick did, ever again.

              Read more: http://mashable.com/

              Marissa SafontThe NFL can’t ignore its players’ activism any more
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