Since June U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has gone so far as to make personal appeals to Congress, at one point appearing with a signed, vague letter from the POTUS, to drop the memo which has been hailed as being the first line of defense for cannabis patients across the country. The memo provides language that de-prioritizes the cannabis cultivators, markets, and consumers in states that have legalized medical and adult use cannabis and essentially defunding any attempts to use federal forces to interfere with state regulated businesses and consumers.
Earlier this month, Bloomberg Politics reported that “Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado said Sessions told him before being confirmed as attorney general earlier this year that he planned to take a hands-off approach toward states that legalize marijuana. Gardner, whose state is among them, said he’ll hold Sessions to his comments.”
These requests to essentially ignore the Obama era memo, were followed by an uptick in activity surrounding legalization. Shortly after states like Colorado began to launch their pilot public consumption program, Illinois had just previously entered two bills to propose legalizing adult use cannabis, and most recently Senator Cory Booker introduced a federal bill that could potentially end the federal cannabis prohibition completely. Organizations like Norml, MPP, SafeAccess, and even smaller, grassroots efforts on the individual state levels, like Illinois Citizens for Responsible Regulation, are also showing increased activity and public presences as more and more states move to legalize both medical and adult use markets.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) under the current Attorney General has become increasingly hostile to the growing legal cannabis industry in America, and subsequently equally harmful to the budding industrial hemp industry as well. Sessions increasing focus on the cannabis market is also creating financial ripples in the budding industry. The continued jabs and perceived threats has created unrest in some cannabis stocks over the summer, with stocks like GW Pharmaceuticals PLC's reporting losses this past spring according to industry reports.
As we move into the fall, many people will be watching closely how the DOJ decides to approach the legalized market and how far congress will push to uphold the memo protecting patients across the 29 medically legalized states along with the markets of the eight adult use states. But for the moment it seems as though Congress will lean in favor of upholding the memo and protecting the existing markets.