In a memo, Sessions wrote that nothing had changed in regards to the federal government's stance on the legality of cannabis, and the department would no longer turn a blind eye from the law in states that had legalized it.
New Hampshire's acting U.S. Attorney, John Farley, said Thursday that his office has received Sessions' memo and "will rely on the long-established prosecutorial principles of the Justice Department to determine when it is appropriate to prosecute cases involving marijuana".
A budtender assists a customer at the Higher Path medical marijuana dispensary in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles in December.
Sessions, known as a strong opponent of legalizing marijuana, stopped short of directly encouraging US prosecutors to bring marijuana cases.
Major pot producers and sellers who come to the attention of federal prosecutors are most likely to feel the effects.
Whether they'll do it or not - with considerations of tight budgets and competing priorities - United States attorneys' offices can now begin crackdowns at various points in the billion dollar industry. "Theoretically, the raids on dispensaries could resume", said UC Hastings College of the Law professor Hadar Aviram, president of the Western Society of Criminology.
All told, the market in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana is estimated to be $6 billion and forecast to grow to $9 billion by the end of the year, according to Marijuana Business Daily, an industry trade publication.
"The separation of the family is too deep, it's very painful", said Luis Magana, coordinator, Justice for Migrant Workers. About 61 percent of US voters support legalization. His replacement has not been announced. Legal sales didn't actually kick in until New Year's Day.
It also is likely to boost apprehension among the US banks and credit unions that were considering jumping into the fast-growing niche.
The sale of cannabis remains against federal law.
But the California legal market is dwarfed by the state's black market and could act as a reality check on the euphoria cannabis businesses are feeling in the afterglow of legalization.
California began selling recreational marijuana Monday in what's seen as a milestone.
Business is up at From The Earth dispensary.
Just take a look at a typical harvest season, says DeAngelo. "Every day, I instruct my employees to scrupulously observe California's laws and regulations regarding cannabis". "We know the city wants to be up and running (Saturday) and we are doing our best to accomplish that, but there is no guarantee".
According to the Register Guard, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said the state would honor the will of the people who voted, adding the recreational marijuana industry had added 19,000 jobs to the economy.
"Rescinding the Cole memo directs all US attorneys to follow well established principles on which cases to pursue", said Reichert.
"There is a conflict between state and federal law regarding marijuana use, and Congress should provide certainty so that federal law enforcement policy can't change depending on who runs the Department of Justice". He said Sessions' decision will boost sales.
"Until the slow, clunking machinery of the federal government catches up with the values and will of the people it purportedly serves, states -like California - will continue to both resist and, more importantly, to lead".
Advocates for medical marijuana patients and providers - like Steph Sherer with Americans for Safe Access - describe the protection as "a ceasefire". "Medical marijuana is another thing". The company is one of the largest providers of IT-related solutions in the growing Cannabis industry. There are already cannabis lobbyists roaming the halls of the state Capitol, and Silicon Valley's venture capital firms have invested in the industry's growth.
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