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Congressional Lawmakers Urge AG to End Current Legal Limbo, Issue ‘Overdue’ Cannabis Guidance

Congressional legislators recently forwarded a letter to the attorney general (AG), urging him to issue guidance on federal cannabis enforcement in an effort to stave off interference in state marijuana programs. The letter, penned by Congressional Cannabis Caucus cochairs Representatives Barbara Lee and Earl Blumenauer, stated that the department of justice needed to correct this oversight and issue a memo clarifying that its resources wouldn’t be used to prosecute parties acting in accordance with tribal or state law.

It has been more than five years since former AG Jeff Sessions revoked the previous memos that directed prosecutors to not interfere with tribal and state cannabis laws. The legislators explained that while they appreciated the historic steps the current administration had taken to commence the formal review of the drug’s classification under the Controlled Substances Act and pardon simple possession offenses at the federal level, it was unacceptable that more than one-half of Americans living in states where the drug was legal were left in limbo without guidance to avert unjust prosecution of individuals who complied with their tribe’s or state’s regulations.

The letter also highlighted that state regulators, law enforcement, patients and small businesses as well as the everyday person were caught in the crossfires, which was worsened by the delay in issuing the protections. Lee and Blumenauer asked the justice department what steps it was taking to ensure tribe-or-state legal actions weren’t prosecuted, especially given President Joseph Biden’s public position on no one being imprisoned for cannabis possession.

In conclusion, the letter underscored the need for public guidance on federal prosecutions as Congress worked to address the effects of the gap on marijuana policy.

When AG Garland was asked about this during a committee hearing last year, he stated that it was fair to expect that the updated cannabis policy would be similar to the Cole memorandum. The AG then revealed that the department of justice was assessing different issues related to cannabis and its production, use and sale.

In other news, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is focused on completing its review into marijuana scheduling, after the U.S. Department of Health and Human services recommended that the drug be moved to a lower schedule in the Controlled Substances Act.

Lee has personally opposed the idea of rescheduling, arguing that this could set the U.S. back another five decades on the path to marijuana’s federal legalization. Blumenauer seems to share the same opinion, noting that fully eliminating marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act was bolder rather than rescheduling the drug.

Marijuana companies such as Curaleaf Holdings Inc. (CSE: CURA) (OTCQX: CURLF) will be hoping that federal legal reforms get enacted sooner rather than later, so that the cannabis industry can fully blossom in the country.

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