How will change in federal marijuana policy affect patients in South Florida?

'He's not going to win this fight,' local cannabis businessman says of Sessions

By Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The Trump administration is ditching President Barack Obama's hands-off policy when it comes to prosecuting marijuana. 

So how will that affect all of the medical marijuana patients in South Florida?  

"Legal businesses operating under states' rights, they're operating under a cloud of uncertainty,"  U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said. 

With a surprise announcement Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions turned back the clock on federal marijuana policy, jolting the multibillion-dollar industry in states across the country and angering politicians across the board, including Gardner, who said Sessions broke his promise.

"Thousands of jobs are at risk, millions of dollars in revenue and the question of constitutional state rights at the core of this discussion," Gardner said.  

Sessions rescinded the 2013 Cole Memo, which essentially set a federal policy of noninterference with states that legalized cannabis.

"All this does is create chaos. (It) does not help the citizens of the United States whatsoever," local cannabis businessman and consultant Bruce Vanaman said. 

Vanaman said Sessions not only broke a promise that he would leave states alone before his Senate confirmation, but he also is bucking up against a congressional amendment forbidding the federal government from spending taxpayer resources to fight state-legal cannabis operations.

"Incarcerating people for doing a legal business? I have no idea what he's trying to do here," Vanaman said.  

Vanaman said Sessions' move will have no practical impact on Florida's medical cannabis industry in the immediate future and he predicted any bid by the Trump administration to meddle in Florida or any other legal state would go down in defeat.

"He's not going to win this fight. This is a big fight. It's too big to fail. He doesn't stand a chance," Vanaman said.  

Gardner has promised to block all Justice Department nominations until Sessions reverses course and stands by his promise not to interfere in states that have legalized cannabis.

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