United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not been shy about his opinion of marijuana. He believes it is a dangerous drug worthy of Schedule A designation. On January 4th, the Department of Justice released a memo calling for stricter enforcement of federal marijuana prohibition. While states with some form of legal marijuana have always been vulnerable to clashes with federal agents, previous memos have instructed federal law enforcement and prosecutors to make medical and recreational marijuana users a low priority. 

The Sessions memo rescinds these protections in one fell swoop. 

Avoiding Federal Marijuana Prosecution 

Obama-era guidance never acknowledged state laws as the law of the land. It simply instructed federal prosecutors to focus their resources on large-scale operations involved in the black market, instead of on individual patients and legal recreational users. Rescinding that guidance, in theory, means that federal prosecutors will more readily target legal users. But in practice, will they? Probably not. Here’s why: 

  • Most crimes are tried in state courts, rather than federal courts – meaning Arizona state laws determine the charges and legally allowed defenses. 
  • Federal prosecutors have limited resources and little reason to go after, for example, elderly glaucoma patients, when they have large-scale distributors and gang-affiliated dealers to target.  
  • If you follow the letter of the law by obtaining a medical card, purchasing from only authorized dispensaries, using small amounts inside your home, and avoiding driving under the influence, you’re unlikely to draw the attention of federal agents.  

Larger business owners and growers would seem to have more to fear from this DOJ guidance on marijuana than small dispensaries and individual users. Still, your rights to sell, grow, and medicinally use marijuana in Arizona are tenuous at best. It’s not unheard of to be caught in the crossfire of state and federal laws. 

If you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense, you can call Garcia Law for a consultation 24/7. Don’t wait to call legal counsel if you’ve been arrested for a DUI, drug possession, or other charges related to marijuana.