11 October 2016

Here’s the intro

1.  Federal enforcement policies versus federal law.  Though the 2013 Cole Memo tells you what the Feds are thinking, you should not forget that there are plenty of other federal enforcement memos that show federal government ambivalence towards cannabis. The first federal marijuana enforcement memo, issued in 2009 by then U.S. Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden, essentially said that U.S. Attorneys didn’t have to waste time, resources, and manpower on pursuing medical cannabis operators in “clear and unambiguous compliance” with state medical marijuana laws. But in 2011, U.S. Attorney General James M. Cole (author of the 2013 Cole Memo) issued a memo which didn’t exactly retract the Ogden Memo but made clear the federal government would not stop pursuing MMJ operators in compliance with their state’s medical cannabis laws. Cole then came back in 2013 and told U.S. Attorneys that the Department of Justice would focus on eight enforcement priorities and essentially lay off legalized states with “robust” cannabis regulations. None of these memos specifically address what the feds will do with those who operate marijuana businesses in multiple states. Though the 2013 Cole Memo said that the size of a marijuana enterprise alone is not the deciding factor in whether to go after it, we still sense that interstate actors are more likely to draw federal attention.

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