Federal - State Law Conflict

According to reports appearing this morning in the New York Times and the Washington Post, Attorney General Sessions is expected to rescind the Cole Memorandum later today.  The Cole Memorandum is a Department of Justice policy that strongly discourages federal prosecutors from enforcing federal marijuana laws in states in which possession and use of marijuana is legal under state
Continue Reading Breaking News: Department of Justice to Rescind Cole Memorandum

Transport of marijuana in states where it is legal to islands located within the state is complicated by the fact that transportation by air generally violates federal law.  Rule 91.19 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR 91.19) generally prohibits civil aircraft from knowingly transporting marijuana and other types of illicit drugs within the US.  The prohibition initially
Continue Reading FAA Rule May Permit Air Shipment of Marijuana to Islands

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in the news for two reasons today: he’s testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on his possible links to Russia and a letter he wrote to Congress indicating his disapproval of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment has surfaced.

Last month we reported that Congress extended the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment.  No sooner was this extension passed,  but Sessions wrote
Continue Reading Sessions Seeks Repeal of Rohrabacher-Farr

We recently reported on the inclusion of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment in the current Congressional budget deal.  The controversy over whether the Justice Department should be permitted to enforce federal laws in states where marijuana is legal for medical purposes only seemed settled, at least until the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 expires in late September.  Due to the signing statement that President Trump issued when approving the Act, however, we may have blogged too soon.
Continue Reading Reading the Signs: Is a Marijuana Crackdown in Our Future?

The appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General created a great deal of uncertainty in the medical marijuana community.  Sessions has a long history of opposing the legalization of marijuana, whether for medical or recreational purposes.  “Marijuana is against federal law, and that applies in states where they may have repealed their own anti-marijuana laws. So yes, we will enforce law in an appropriate way nationwide,” Sessions said in an interview with radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt in March.
Continue Reading See You in September: Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment in Budget Deal

Seyfarth Synopsis: In response to recent comments from senior members of the Trump Administration, lawmakers are exploring novel ways to protect the burgeoning marijuana industry (and the many jobs that it is projected to create) in states where it is legal, including legislation that would prevent state and local agencies from using state resources to assist federal enforcement efforts.
Continue Reading Sanctuary States … from Federal Marijuana Enforcement?

On January 10, 2017, Alabama GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions began confirmation hearings with the Senate Judiciary Committee for his potential role as Attorney General in the upcoming Trump administration.   During these hearings he was asked questions that shed light on possible differences between the Trump administration Department of Justice’s stance on marijuana as compared to the Obama administration.

In response to a question about federalism as it relates to marijuana laws from Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, Sessions stated:

“One obvious concern is that Congress has made the possession of marijuana in every state an illegal act. If that is not desired any longer, Congress should pass a law to change it. It’s not the attorney general’s job to decide which laws to enforce. We should enforce the laws as effectively as we are able.”

Continue Reading Jeff Sessions Senate Confirmation Hearing Hints at Enforcement Attitudes Towards Marijuana

As state laws regarding medical and recreational marijuana evolve, lawyers face a variety of ethical issues relating both to counseling clients in marijuana related businesses (MRBs)and to financing or participating in MRBs.

The ethical dilemma stems from the fact that while state laws continue to expand the legality of marijuana, its use and possession in any form is still against federal law.  Most state ethical rules contain a rule similar to Rule 1.2(d) of the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct (Model Rules) which states:

A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client in, conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent, but a lawyer may discuss the legal consequences of a proposed course of conduct with a client and may counsel or assist a client to make a good faith effort to determine the validity, meaning, or application of the law.

The dilemma created by Rule 1.2(d) is that it does not make a distinction between state and federal law.
Continue Reading Lawyers Beware: Navigating the Legal Ethics of Counseling or Participating in the Marijuana Industry

On August 16, in the case of United States v. McIntosh[1], the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, reversed decisions from the District Court for the Northern District of California denying the appellants’ request for  relief against the Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) in connection with indictments brought against them for violation of the Controlled Substances Act.  The Court held that the appellants had standing to seek relief under a rider to the Consolidated Appropriations Act[2] prohibiting the DOJ from spending funds to prevent states’ implementation of their medical marijuana laws (“§ 542”).
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Limits DOJ Prosecution of Persons Complying with State Marijuana Laws

Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana.

The Justice Department can’t interfere with states’ medical pot laws.

Note: we’re preparing a blog post on this topic – keep watching this space!


Continue Reading The Week in Weed: August 19