SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — US Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded several Obama administration memos that paved the way for states with legal marijuana to flourish.
The move by Sessions eliminates some protections for states with legal cannabis and gives federal prosecutors the freedom to decide how aggressively they want to pursue federal cannabis law.
It has many in the multi-million dollar industry worried about what may be a return to a federal crackdown.
People like Dale Schafer, who missed his grandson’s birth. Schafer was charged with growing and distributing marijuana to people with illnesses in the early 2000s
“I did it. I took the witness stand and admitted to it, but it got me five years in federal prison,” said Schafer.
Since then, the crackdown on people like Schafer has trailed off due to the Obama era directive that protected states’ rights.
“There aren’t enough federal enforcement officers in this country to stop the cannabis trade in California,” said Schafer.
On Thursday, Sessions rescinded those memos, paving the way for a wider range of enforcement and prosecution by federal agents.
“Every licensed business including all these retailers in the eyes of the federal system, are continuing criminal enterprises,” said Schafer.
“It does worry me,” said Lanette Davies, who runs Canna Care Dispensary in Sacramento.
The move sent a shockwave of fear through the cannabis community.
“I’m sure people felt safer getting into the regulated market knowing that the government was giving them a backing of sort,” said Davies.
“I imagine they’re a little bit nervous,” said Carla Lowe, an anti-pot activist with CALM, “and they should be.”
She was encouraged by Session’s move.
“I certainly think it’s a win,” said Lowe.
But Lowe says Sessions stopped short of directing attorneys to enforce federal law. She says there isn’t enough money and resources for local departments to crack down on all marijuana operations.
“And until that happens, I don’t think this is going to have much value,” said Lowe.