Berman & Asbel, LLP

Sessions Rescinds Policy on Federal Prosecution for Marijuana

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced that he is rescinding an Obama-era policy on federal prosecution for marijuana offenses in states where the drug is legalized.

Previously, federal prosecutors were discouraged from interfering in states that have legalized marijuana unless an offense was particularly serious. This allowed people to grow, sell, purchase and use marijuana in these states without fear of federal prosecution. This may no longer be the case now that Sessions has freed federal prosecutors to enforce federal marijuana laws.

How This Announcement Could Affect Pennsylvanians

It is possible that this announcement will delay or change plans for the opening of marijuana dispensaries that provide marijuana to patients with state-issued medical marijuana cards.

It will also exacerbate existing confusion over how and if a person will be prosecuted for a marijuana-related offense.

What Happens Now?

In response to Sessions' announcement, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf stated that he will work to protect residents in this state from federal marijuana prosecution, though it is unclear how that will happen.

There is also the potential for considerable voter backlash against the return to Federal prosecution. According to a recent Gallop poll, 64 percent of people support the legalization of marijuana and there has been growing bipartisan support for legalization across the U.S.

It is difficult to say for certain how the recent directive will affect individuals, which is why it remains important for people to seek legal counsel if they are facing criminal charges related involving marijuana. Between the harsh penalties for conviction and the potential for the federal government involvement, the charges you face are serious and you need to understand your legal options.

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