Attorney General Jeff Sessions threw a wrench into legalized marijuana systems in Ohio and other states last week when he repealed an Obama-era policy of leaving law-abiding marijuana businesses alone in those states.
Or did he?
Ohio medical marijuana program officials said they plan to move forward with setting up the regulated industry of growers, processors, testing labs and dispensaries before September. And the U.S. attorney for Ohio’s Southern District indicated his office won’t change how it chooses to prosecute drug crimes and its focus on opioids.
But axing the so-called Cole memo once again injected uncertainty into a multibillion-dollar industry that’s grown despite marijuana remaining illegal in federal law. Many saw the Cole memo as a safe harbor against prosecution, and without it, investors in Ohio and elsewhere might get cold feet.
And that could be easier than in the past, as a new Gallup poll shows support for legalization has reached 61 percent.
Meanwhile, a group of Ohioans who weren’t awarded cultivation licenses here plan to propose a constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot.
Will Sessions’ memo inspire U.S. attorneys to crack down on marijuana businesses in legal states? Will Congress remove marijuana from the most dangerous category of controlled substances or take other action to protect the marijuana industry? How might the federal debate trickle down to Ohio?