Jeff Sessions’ reversal of an Obama-era marijuana policy has brought fury from both parties
Arthur Rizer, a former trial attorney with the Justice Department, primarily serving as a federal prosecutor with the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, and Jonathan Blanks, a research associate in Cato’s Project on Criminal Justice, agreed that dispensaries of recreational pot may be most threatened by DOJ’s changed policy. U.S. attorneys are unlikely to target users simply for possession, they said, and medical marijuana dispensaries aren’t at the top of the list.
“The problem with these recreational dispensaries is they’ve had to register and show compliance, so they’ve provided evidence that they have committed a federal crime,” Blanks said.
Rizer, who worked at the Justice Department from 2005 to 2014, said even before states started legalizing marijuana federal prosecutors would only go after the “big dogs.”
“Most of the guys on the ground, their hearts are not into pot,” Rizer said. “I wouldn’t even take those cases if it didn’t involve 500 pounds of pot, at least.”
Rizer said there is some good news for pot advocates. First, investigators will likely have to build cases from scratch, meaning it will be a while before any charges are filed against dispensaries operating legally under state law. Second, regardless of whether Sessions’ eventual goal is to shut down the marijuana industry, “he just can’t, they don’t have the resources.”