It also prompted the resignation of the chairman of the state's Marijuana Control Board, who said the decision strips away the underpinning for the legal marijuana industry in Alaska.
In a memorandum released Thursday afternoon, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed all U.S. Attorneys to disregard Obama-era marijuana policies and return to the rule of law enacted by congress in 1970.
Terry Blevins, who is part-owner of a marijuana distribution company in California, says his phone rang off the hook Thursday with people concerned about a crackdown. Justice Department officials wouldn't say whether the move is intended for federal prosecutors to specifically target marijuana shops and legal growers.
Sessions' shift at the Justice Department comes days after marijuana became officially legal under laws in California, the largest state.
By Thursday afternoon, one USA attorney in a key jurisdiction said Sessions' new guidelines wouldn't change federal enforcement there.
"I'm not anxious. Everything we do here follows state laws, and everything is up to code".
"We use the money we get from marijuana sales to fund our school resource officer and to bring in a D.A.R.E officer to speak to the schools", North Bend City Administrator Terence O'Connor said.
Legal experts do not expect a flood of new cases, and people familiar with the job of US attorney say prosecutors could decide against using already limited resources to seek criminal charges against cannabis companies that abide by state regulations or their customers.
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"When the policy is so broad and uncertain that it's left case by case to different decision makers, it creates confusion and uncertainty that can be unjust", Walsh said.
Another 21 states have medical marijuana laws on the books, including red states like Arkansas, which passed its ballot referendum in 2016, and Florida, which put its own measure over the top by a whopping 71 percent at the polls.
Sessions' new memo does not explicitly set forth how prosecutors should treat medical marijuana, though a senior Justice official explained that prosecutors wouldn't do anything contrary to any current federal law.
But at Green Dragon, Levine said the move won't cause any changes and they won't slow growth plans or scale back any operations.
"I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation", Gardner tweeted Thursday. Colorado has a new statewide plant-count limit (the cap of twelve applies to everyone including medical patients, unless they receive a plant-count extension from the state), but it falls to local and state law enforcement officials to enforce that.
The move by Sessions has generated outrage among advocates for legal marijuana as well as some conservatives who believe the federal government shouldn't overrule the wishes of state government on issues like this. "Jeff Sessions doesn't seem to agree with that and I think it's all going to come to a head soon".
The appointments are temporary, but the prosecutors could be named permanently as Sessions fills the vacant slots. And for medical marijuana, "it is not likely an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on seriously ill individuals or their individual care givers".
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