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Houston Harbaugh Blog

January 2018 Archives

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Rescinds Marijuana Enforcement Guidance

In early January 2018, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the long-standing Obama-era guidance regarding the Department of Justice's (DOJ) treatment of the marijuana industry. In a series of memoranda dating back to 2009, Deputy Attorney Generals David W. Ogden and James M. Cole had established national guidance listing eight key areas of marijuana enforcement for federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies. Federal law enforcement personnel were directed to focus their resources on persons and organizations that interfered with these priorities. Notably, the use of medical marijuana was not included in the list of enforcement priorities. The memoranda stated that federal marijuana enforcement should not focus on individuals whose actions are in "clear and unambiguous compliance" with existing state laws providing for the use of medical marijuana, and that pursuing prosecution of individuals with serious illnesses and their caretakers is "unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources."