How New Attorney General Jeff Sessions Could Impact Federal Marijuana Laws


Regardless of your views on new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his confirmation has the potential to impact federal marijuana laws. Many marijuana advocates are concerned that Sessions, who has taken a strong stance against marijuana use in the past, will target legal marijuana – both medical and recreational. Others believe that business will continue pretty much as usual, especially after eight states, including California, voted to legalize medical or recreational marijuana in 2016.

We won’t speculate as to the choices Sessions will make. But, with any new AG there is the potential for significant policy change. So, what is the process if the Attorney General wishes to change current federal marijuana laws?

Changing Federal Marijuana Laws

Federal regulations largely focused on criminal enterprises during the Obama era, thanks in part to a 2013 memorandum from Deputy Attorney General James Cole. Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the DEA has stood fast in its refusal to change the classification. But, the memorandum effectively halted federal prosecution of legitimate businesses and law-abiding consumers.

Under Sessions, the 2013 policy could easily be changed. During his confirmation hearings, Sessions expressed concerns about disrupting state markets but left open the possibility that the DOJ may begin enforcing federal regulations. “Overturning” the Cole memorandum would allow federal agencies to arrest, charge, and prosecute recreational cannabis businesses. Whether or not there will be any changes remains to be seen, but many marijuana advocates are cautiously optimistic by the tone the current administration has taken toward marijuana policy so far.

Federal Marijuana Laws & Their Impact on State Law

Recreational marijuana at the state level is on shakier footing than medical, but no more than one might expect after an administration change. We still don’t know how marijuana policy may shift at the federal level. Sessions has spoken out against marijuana in the past, but that doesn’t mean increasing federal marijuana enforcement will be a high priority item for him, or even an item at all, as suggested during his confirmation hearings. And with more and more states voting to legalize weed, this may be one battle Sessions chooses not to fight.

Even if the federal government decides to increase marijuana enforcement in states with legal cannabis, there are a number of hurdles that could delay or prevent such action. First, government resources are already stretched thin with the administration change, and effective enforcement will require timing and commitment. Second, increased funding for such federal action would have to be approved by Congress, which certainly isn’t a certainty. Finally, drastic changes at the federal level would likely trigger a series of lawsuits against the federal government concerning states’ rights.

Boulder’s First Recreational Marijuana Dispensary

Karing Kind is Boulder’s first recreational marijuana dispensary. Adapting to new regulations is part of doing business, and we’re proud to be a part of one of the fastest growing industries in the world. We strive to provide a top-tier experience every time you enter our store. Our wide selection of clean-grown bud, chemical-free concentrates, and edibles – along with our award-winning budtenders – makes us the perfect Colorado cannabis destination.

Karing Kind is located just off of US-36, one mile north of Broadway, open daily from 9am to 10pm.

While we carry a variety of strains, concentrates, edibles, salves and tinctures, inventory and stock levels fluctuate from week to week and month to month. Check our menu and follow us on Twitter for an up-to-date list of edibles, concentrates and buds available now.