January 14, 2019

March 21, 2017, Alaska

Cannabis has always been an element of legislative and jurisdictional tension between the federation and states and sometimes it all looks very absurd to an observer. When many states have decades old medical cannabis programs, the federal laws still classify cannabis as a class-I controlled substance, the same category which enlists different strong opioids.

With time when many states are moving forward with adult-use legalization of cannabis and streamlining their MMJ programs, the federal progress on the issue is going backward. The latest demonstration of this regression is the annulment of Cole Memo.

This federal memorandum was put in into effect by the Obama administration to limit the federal interference in the marijuana regulation and operations of states. But at the beginning of this year, the infamous cannabis crusader Jeff Sessions, heading the federal justice department, rescinded this memo.

With legislative barrier removed, state operations have become vulnerable to incur federal crackdowns. Sessions announcement came at an interest time when the largest state of the country was commencing its legalized adult-use cannabis operations.

Alaska Asks the Federation to Respect their Authority on Local Cannabis Operations
Alaska Asks the Federation to Respect their Authority – Image powered by Marijuana.heraldtribune.com

Nonetheless, the most reassuring thing during the saga was that the states and local lawmakers pledged to protect their autonomy from irrational federal encroachment. One such legislative demonstration has happened this week with the passing of a resolution by the Alaska House of Representatives, which asks the federal administration not to get in the way of state-sanctioned marijuana operations.

A non-binding resolution has been unanimously passed by the state legislator asking respective federal authorities to recognize and respect the state’s authority over the regulation, production and sales of marijuana. In the state law book, marijuana is a legalized entity and can be a part of any commercial activity, as outlined by the local legislation.

Furthermore, the resolution also asks the federal government to reassess its list of control substances. The resolution will now go to the senate for its approval. Earlier, the senate has collectively opposed the idea of issuing a formal statement against a drastic and unwanted shift in the cannabis law enforcement policy of the federation.

Even though many states are still on their track to legalize cannabis, but annulment of the Cole Memo can affect the pace of the progress. Significant cannabis reforms that we have witnessed in these couple of years might have not been possible, if it weren’t for Cole memo.

Annulment of the Cole Memo
Annulment of the Cole Memo – Image powered by Leafly.com

Other states should also come forward with similar measures to demonstrate unity and to show that they are determined to practice and defend their legal rights.

Alaska became the third US state to legalize recreational cannabis. The legalization came into effect with public ballot where more than 50 percent Alaskans voted in favor of alcohol-like operations of cannabis.

Right now from production to retail operation of cannabis, everything is running according to legislation in the state, and generating significant amount of revenue as well. A possible federal interference will definitely disrupt the smooth sailing of legalized cannabis operations in Alaska and, for that matter, the House have to come forward with this resolution.

Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]


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