GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - During President Obama's administration, the Cole Memo's were created to keep federal law enforcement from standing in the way of states that legalized marijuana.
"What the Cole Memo essentially said was look 'we have some priorities and listed eight priorities that the federal government really cares about, if state legal marijuana activity doesn't jeopardize those priorities, then I recommend you don't use your valuable resources to prosecute marijuana activity in those states," business attorney Bob Hendricks said.
This was only a recommendation. It had no legal standing. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the policy, calling it unnecessary.
"He is certainly setting a tone for those agencies and departments that is more anti-marijuana, in and of itself however, that doesn't mean that there will be a significant prosecutorial change," Hendricks said.
That's because of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment.
"What it says is essentially, the federal government may not use federal funds to prosecute state legal medical marijuana activities, period," Hendricks said.
So for now, Michigan's medical marijuana operations are theoretically in the clear. That's not the case for recreational use. Nine states have recreational pot on the books and those laws could be in danger. As could Michigan's law, if it passes later this year.
"The number of voters in the state of Michigan, based on polling I've seen is somewhere between the high 50's and the low 60's who approve of the complete repeal of prohibition. I think most of those people believe that prohibition should be repealed at the state level no matter what the federal government does," Hendricks said.
Hendricks think this decision could actually backfire for Sessions. It may encourage lawmakers from the 30 states that have medical and recreational laws to come together, across party lines to remove marijuana from the controlled substances list.
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