JOHNSON: They told reporters they can't predict whether there are going to be more federal prosecutions coming or where.
David Kopel, an adjunct professor of constitutional law at the University of Denver and research director of the Independence Institute, said Sessions' announcement is sending a shock wave across Colorado, which not only changed its laws, but amended its state constitution to legalize pot.
Which recreational states have federal prosecutors who are hostile to marijuana?
More significantly, this move by the administration runs contrary to the wishes of the overwhelming majority of US voters, including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents - who support the regulation of adult cannabis use and also strongly believe that decisions about marijuana policy ought to be a state issue, not a federal one.
Sessions and some law enforcement officials blame legalization for a number of problems, including trafficking black market weed. Authorities are also concerned about stoned drivers and fear that widespread acceptance of the drug could increase its youth appeal.
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He said that Sessions has been "non-existent" and "irrelevant" in the Russian Federation investigation.
Medical and recreational marijuana use is still illegal nationally under the Controlled Substances Act and marijuana is listed under the Schedule 1 list of drugs, along with heroin and LSD.
Federal officials, for example, could send cease-and-desist letters to marijuana business owners, authorize US government seizures of property or pursue federal forfeiture cases, Fine said. "The 10th Amendment says what it says", he said, noting that as a conservative he's been able to appeal to other Republicans on states' rights grounds alone.
It delegated other enforcement of marijuana laws to state and local officials.
Colorado's US attorney, Bob Troyer, said his office won't change its approach to prosecution, despite Sessions' guidance. He threatened to play hardball, even putting a hold on all DOJ nominees, including Colorado's interim U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, if Sessions proceeds down this path.
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Journalist Tom Angel in Forbes stressed that Sessions's recent decision contradicts Trump's campaign promises advocating for states' rights when it comes to marijuana policy. "Because there are some aggressive actions the federal government could take that would be devastating to the industry". The majority of states - 29 - have legalized marijuana to some extent. Even after hearing the news on Thursday, Vermont lawmakers opted to move forward with legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana in the state. Justice officials said they would follow the law, but would not preclude the possibility of medical-marijuana related prosecutions.
Scherer said he and his business partners were in a "wait and see" situation on the revised policy. However, many suggested that a large-scale crackdown was unlikely given the industry's size.
San Francisco cannabis attorney Henry Wykowski noted that state-legal medical marijuana businesses face less of a threat from a federal crackdown given the protections provided by the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment now in effect. "I don't see any of those people being bashful".
"Until the slow, clunking machinery of the federal government catches up with the values and will of the people it purportedly serves, states - like California - will continue to both resist and, more importantly, to lead", Chiang said.
"We should, in my book, not push the panic button on either your individual lives or your businesses", Inslee said.
At Harborside in Oakland, one of California's largest shops, founder and CEO Steve DeAngelo said it was business as usual and he wanted to assure customers not to fear shopping there.
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"We've been targeted by the federal government before and we stand up and we fight for our rights", DeAngelo said.