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Federal Policy Toward Marijuana Shifts Backwards

January 4, 2018 Medical Marijuana

The Justice Department today announced it would reverse the previous Obama Administration’s policy toward state marijuana laws.

During President Obama’s tenure, the federal government took a hands-off approach to marijuana. This allowed the marijuana industry to expand.

The Obama policy instructed federal prosecutors to de-prioritize marijuana prosecutions in these states, except where prosecutions involved organized crime.

Colorado and Washington were the first states to allow legal recreational use. Alaska, Oregon, and Nevada followed suit. California started allowing recreational use of marijuana this year. 100 dispensaries opened in California this week. Massachusetts and Maine may soon see recreational marijuana.

The new administration policy will free federal prosecutors to aggressively enforce federal marijuana laws. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

How Does This Effect Michigan?

Michigan is seeing big changes in the marijuana scene right now.

The Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act allowed people to start obtaining licenses for various industry roles last month.

Also in the last month a pro-marijuana groups submitted signatures for a 2018 ballot initiative for recreational marijuana.

The new policy might have a chilling effect for big businesses interested in the medical marijuana industry. Previously excited investors could get cold feet about putting money into an uncertain industry.

The States of Marijuana in the U.S.A

States permitting medical marijuana include Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont

States where marijuana is legal include California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska, Nevada.

The marijuana industry in these states is estimated at $6 billion annually and is expected to grow to $9 billion this year.

When Trump was asked on the campaign trail about marijuana and state rights, he responded, “I think it’s up to the states. I am a states person. I think it should be up to the states. Absolutely.”

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Call Sam Bernstein at 734-883-9584 or e-mail at

Sam Bernstein is a criminal defense lawyer based in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

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