Cannabis companies in legal states are free from the heavy hand of the Justice Department

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Attorney General Garland asserts that the federal government won’t act against state cannabis laws

It is more than clear that the idea of each state deciding whether it wants a legal marijuana market or not is because it has the resources necessary for proper regulation. This is also the idea that has been adopted by Attorney General (AG) Merrick Garland, who said yesterday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) should not be getting involved and spending its resources to prosecute people who use marijuana in accordance with state law.

The issue came to light after Representative Mike Garcia, during a meeting of the House Appropriations subcommittee, asked Garland what his position was on the issue, and what steps his agency should be taking to prevent unlawful acts in the states. Garland said he is “not familiar with precisely the details” of that issue, but that it is “certainly within our jurisdiction and within our scope of concern” to pursue marijuana grow operations that violate state law. Still, the AG made it clear that prosecuting people who use cannabis in states where it is legal is not a priority at the moment, as that would not be a good use of resources. It is not a luxury the department can afford, especially after the financial crisis that has hit the country with the advent of COVID-19.

For this, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been targeting illicit growers, even if their work has to be taken to states where cannabis is already legal. Garland’s comments on the DOJ’s cannabis priorities are highly relevant to what he said earlier this year. “I don’t think it’s the best use of the Department’s limited resources to pursue prosecutions of those who are complying with the laws in states that have legalized and are effectively regulating marijuana,” he said previously.