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Dept. of Justice Shifts Stance on State-Legalized Marijuana Sale

Mon, Jan 8, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded Obama-era policies that protected the sale of cannabis in states where the drug is legal. The move leaves credit unions in states where marijuana has been legalized uncertain of what is going to happen. In 2013, then- deputy Attorney General James Cole released guidelines, referred to as the “Cole Memo,” intended to clear up confusion about how or even if federal government agencies could discipline state-legalized cannabis businesses and users. The Justice Department will now allow federal prosecutors to decide how aggressively to enforce federal law.

The move comes as California began legal retail cannabis sales on January 1, becoming the sixth state to begin retail marijuana sales. Some form of medical marijuana is legal in 29 states, including Maryland, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. Although California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, Colorado was the first state to allow legal retail sales, which began on January 1, 2014, the year after the Cole memo was released.