A memo from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinding the directives of what’s known as the “Cole Memo” had many in the U.S. cannabis industry on edge.
The Cole Memo was written by former US Attorney General James M. Cole in 2013 and followed on from a similar document authored by Deputy Attorney General David Ogden in 2009.
The crux of the Cole Memo was that prosecutors and law enforcement agencies should focus on specific issues related state-legal cannabis operations. These included distribution to minors, diversion of revenue to criminal gangs and using cannabis as a cover for other illegal drug activities. The full text of the Cole Memo can be viewed here.
It’s no secret that Jeff Sessions isn’t a fan of marijuana and is resistant to acknowledging its medical benefits. He has referred to marijuana as a “dangerous drug” on more than one occasion.
AG Sessions had been reasonably quiet for the last couple of months after a misfire in August, but on Thursday he launched a significant salvo in a memo sent to the Department of Justice for the attention of all US Attorneys.
“Given the Department’s well-established general principles, previous nationwide guidance specific to marijuana is unnecessary and is rescinded, effective immediately,” stated the memo.
In the footnote, it identifies the Cole and Ogden documents as among the guidance to ignore; which he says were undermining the rule of law.
The full text of the memo can be viewed here.
In a follow-up from the DoJ, it says:
“This return to the rule of law is also a return of trust and local control to federal prosecutors who know where and how to deploy Justice Department resources most effectively to reduce violent crime, stem the tide of the drug crisis, and dismantle criminal gangs.”
Reactions to the news from within the adult-use (recreational) medical cannabis industry have been mixed – everything from “meh” to the sky is falling. But it seems those involved in the adult use industry are most nervous – as are investors, with many stocks initially taking a hit on the news.
It’s believed industrial hemp and by extension, cannabidiol, will not be affected.
Even with the directive in place, legislation (the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment) preventing the Department of Justice interfering with U.S States or Territories’ medicinal marijuana laws is still active.