Good news, marijuana lovers! On Thursday, August 29, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder released a three-and-a-half page memo that allows Washington and Colorado’s state marijuana laws to go into effect without interference of the federal government. While this memo still prioritizes eight federal guidelines, this is a big step in the marijuana industry.
The three-and-a-half page memo creates a new precedent for marijuana businesses, as long as they are regulated under these eight federal guidelines:
- the distribution of marijuana to minors;
- revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;
- the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
- state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
- violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;
- drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
- growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands;
- preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.
These areas have been defined as a high priority target for the federal government, but they provide some leeway in the prosecution on marijuana sales and distribution. The memorandum serves as a guide for the Department attorneys and law enforcement to focus their efforts on persons or businesses that do not comply with the eight federal guidelines. This helps to avoid wasting valuable time and resources.
Effects On Current Marijuana-Legal States
Under the new federal memorandum, Washington and Colorado are in for some major changes. Persons in the marijuana industry can now focus on distributing good, quality marijuana products at retail without fear of being shut down by the federal government. Business owners can also now seriously invest in their marijuana businesses and provide good, fearless service while making a profit and benefiting from their business.
Possible Reactions From Other States
As far as other states are concerned, be prepared to see more recreational marijuana laws being passed in the near future. Not only will these laws give voters what they want, states will see a huge increase on tax revenue, and valuable law enforcement resources will be better used. California and Oregon are currently in good standing to be the next states to legalize recreational marijuana use.
Disadvantages To The New Federal Marijuana Policy
Though the release of the memo is new and exciting news to the marijuana community, there is a downside. Some government officials may be resistant to the new law, and continue to enforce previous federal laws. The last paragraph of the document states that “this memorandum does not alter in any way the Department’s authority to enforce federal law, including federal laws relating to marijuana, regardless of state laws.” In short, the federal government can still do whatever they want. This may force some dispensary owners and marijuana users to shy away from taking full advantage of the new memo.
Regardless of the strict guidelines and understandable caution, this could prove to be a drastic change within the marijuana community on a national level. It will be interesting to see what future changes arise.