Unraveling the conundrum of overlapping cannabis laws

It’s no secret that California law, as of Jan. 1, now permits the legal possession, use and sale of small amounts of cannabis, otherwise known as marijuana.

That’s the law, not only in the Golden State but in a fast-growing number of other states. At last count, nearly 30 states and the District of Columbia have at least partially legalized the drug. But because jurisdictional laws have an annoying way of contradicting themselves, that’s not the federal law.

Not at all.

Last month, in a highly publicized move, U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions reiterated his firm stance against any form of marijuana decriminalization, thus reversing a policy of the Obama era. More precisely, he explicitly gave federal prosecutors more freedom to enforce still-existing federal laws against the drug – including (and especially) those states where it is now legal, including California.

The Sessions memo read in part: “It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law.”

He then cited “Congress’ determination that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that marijuana activity is a serious crime.”

Read more here.

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