Just as the recent “snow bomb” blasted the Northeast with frigid temperatures, stinging wind, and damaging floods, Attorney General Sessions really stirred things up last week!
On Friday, January 5, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions unilaterally revoked the Cole and Ogden memos that have guided Federal law enforcement policy on medical and recreational use cannabis since 2009. Senator Cory Gardner says that Sessions did not consult Congress, and it is not clear if President Trump was consulted.
However, Attorney General Sessions may have awakened a reluctant Congress to finally address the conflict between Federal and State marijuana laws. By some estimates the cannabis industry in the United States is as large as the wine industry, about $80 billion annually when legal and illegal sales are both considered. With 29 States and the District of Columbia under some form of legal cannabis regulations, an industry of this size needs to have this conflict resolved. It cannot not go forward hanging on to a couple of guidance memos for legitimacy.
Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, a conservative Republican and head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has threatened to put a hold on appointment of regional U.S. Attorneys General and other Justice Department nominations until Sessions shows some respect for the citizens of the states that have passed legal cannabis initiatives. Colorado is my home state and I have been lobbying Senator Gardner for several years on cannabis issues. I am proud of my friend for standing up for Colorado’s first in the world seed to sale regulatory framework.
Democrat Nancy Pelosi said she will push for an amendment to the upcoming spending bill to protect not only the states that have legalized medical marijuana from Federal prosecution, but recreational use states as well.
On Fox News Saturday, California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said that Sessions has betrayed President Trump who during the 2016 campaign said he considered marijuana a state’s rights issue. The solution, Rohrabacher said is for the Federal government to leave cannabis laws and regulations up the states and local communities.
I completely agree and Congress should allow banking and normal tax deductions for cannabis businesses while they are at it. Thanks to Attorney General Sessions, the time for this legislation may have arrived.
Jim Marty CPA, MS, ABV
CEO of Bridge West CPAs and Consultants, LLC