U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ reversing Obama’s ban on enforcing cannabis laws, makes California state and local marijuana regulatory data a prosecutorial roadmap.
The U.S. Justice Department on Jan. 4 issued a rescission of a 2013 memo by Deputy Attorney General James Cole to all U.S. Attorneys directing federal prosecutors to deem state ballot initiatives legalizing medical and recreational marijuana as a basis for not expending federal resources to prosecute large-scale marijuana trafficking.
The memo specifically stated that Attorney General Sessions directed U.S. Attorneys to “enforce laws enacted by Congress” regarding illegal marijuana activities. The memo returned “trust and local control to federal prosecutors who know where and how to deploy Justice Department resources most effectively to reduce violent crime, stem the tide of the drug crisis, and dismantle criminal gangs.”
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) ‘2016 National Drug Threat Assessment,’ marijuana possession and distribution has been illegal since the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, which was later replaced by the 1970 Controlled Substances Act.
Despite the ban on U.S. prosecutors using enforcement resources in states that legalized forms of marijuana use, the DEA in the last months of the Obama Administration, denied two petitions to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance, which is defined as drugs “having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.”
The 2016 NDTA found that state approval of personal use and medical use of marijuana increased marijuana use, production and shifted demand to higher-quality marijuana.
Attorney General Sessions Marijuana Enforcement memo emphasized that in addition to substantial federal penalties for cultivation, distribution and possession of marijuana; “these activities also may serve as the basis for the prosecution of other crimes, such as those prohibited by the money laundering statutes, and unlicensed money transmitter statute, and Bank Secrecy Act.”
The Justice Department memo essentially serves as a hunting license for local U.S. prosecutors to investigate all marijuana associated payment flows, including California state and local tax payments made via bank drafts and wire transfers.
Breitbart News reported in ‘Licensed California Marijuana Stores Cut Prices As Business Booms’ that over 100 recreational marijuana dispensaries had been licensed and several thousand have shown interest in being licensed by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC). under the voter-approved Proposition 64
Under the law, California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control is “the lead agency in developing regulations for medical and adult-use cannabis in California. BCC is organized into 6 regulatory licensing departments that required detailed data regarding all individuals involved in cannabis Cultivation, Manufacturing, Distribution, Retailer, Laboratory Testing, and Microbusiness.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB-94 on June 27, 2017. The bill required all cannabis distributors must collect the excise taxes from retailers and the cultivation tax from cultivators and manufacturers. Distributors must report and pay cannabis excise and cultivation taxes to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CTDFA).
Under Attorney General Sessions’ new policy, federal prosecutors can legally demand that California’s disclose highly incriminating BCC and CTDFA regulatory and tax data on thousands of individuals involved in the state’s supposedly legal marijuana industry.