Northern Michigan Marijuana Advocates, Prosecutor React To Sessions Rollback
The US attorney general’s reversal has raised concerns among medical marijuana growers and dispensers in northern Michigan, as well as questions about what the future will hold.
“The states that have already legalized, whether it be for medical or for recreational, they are not going to stand still for this,” says Rev. Steven Thompson, director of Benzie County NORML.
The Trump administration is now appearing to leave it up to U.S. attorney’s to enforce federal marijuana laws, even in states that have that have given the green light to marijuana.
That has left marijuana advocates like Rev. Thompson curious about the future.
“It is a passing-of-the-buck,” Thompson says. “It kept them from spending their time and their money on prosecuting in legal states. If he was to roll that back, there’s going to be a revolt like you’ve never saw before.”
He says the enforcement should remain with local governments.
“We have always said that change starts from the bottom up, not from the top down,” Thompson says. “Local municipalities can either choose to embrace it or not embrace it. That’s up to them. Then it goes to state rights.”
“This decision could throw back into limbo the concerns of some medical marijuana growers, dispensers the legality in what they are doing,” says Bob Cooney, Grand Traverse County prosecutor.
Cooney says this could mean the federal government becomes involved in Michigan’s new medical marijuana laws–but even that’s not certain.
“We are talking about federal enforcement of the marijuana laws,” Cooney says. “As far as prosecuting criminal offenses, we will continue to follow state law as regards to medical marijuana here in Michigan.”
It’s an approach shared by Michigan attorney general, Bill Schuette.
“[Thursday]’s memo doesn’t directly apply to our office,” says Andrea Bitely, spokesperson for Schuette’s office. “It applies to US attorneys. We will continue to prosecute those who violate the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, as per usual.”
Marijuana advocates say all they can do is wait and see.
“The horse is out of the barn,” Thompson says. “You are not going to put it back in.”