As part of his recent guidance regarding federal Marijuana Enforcement, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated he would place more discretion in the hands of individual federal prosecutors in enforcing the Controlled Substances Act. As we noted in our initial analysis of this decision, businesses would be wise to gain an understanding of the serving U.S. Attorney in their federal district, and whether he or she has made any statements regarding their position on medical or recreational cannabis.

Cannabis and the law
Copyright: jirkaejc / 123RF Stock Photo

While some in the industry are still reeling from the announcement, statements by U.S. Attorneys have given some comfort to licensed business in states where cannabis is legal. The Huffington Post has a good rundown of many such statements, including from federal prosecutors in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington. (Marijuana Industry Not Freaking Out Over Threat Of Federal Crackdown, via Huffington Post).

PennLive also posted a piece highlighting the reactions of several Pennsylvania politicians to the announcement and its effect on the Commonwealth’s Medical Marijuana Program, including that of David Freed, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Freed stated:

“Having been involved as a state prosecutor in the drafting of that legislation, I believe that there are sufficient safeguards in the law to ensure that the products will be used as intended under the supervision of medical professionals…While I cannot state that there will never be an issue in this area meriting federal involvement, my office has no intention of disrupting Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program or related financial transactions.”

(While feds say states can’t legalize marijuana anymore, Pa. will leave medical pot alone, via PennLive)

While it is yet unclear how the announcement of Attorney General Sessions, or individual statements referenced above, will affect any future enforcement actions, business should cautiously continue business as usual while always ensuring that all operations remain strictly compliant with the law of your state.

Joseph McNelis works in Fox Rothschild’s Blue Bell, PA office and focuses his practice on labor and employment matters. Joe also tracks legal developments in the cannabis industry in Pennsylvania and nationwide. Joe can be contacted at 610-397-2332 or