Four days into the new year and the news delivered to the State sanctioned and approved legal marijuana industry from Washington D.C. was not good.

It doesn’t come as a surprise to all of us that the Department of Justice reversed the Obama era issued Cole Memo in response to the continuing legalization of marijuana across the country. Most recently, California’s adult use marijuana laws went into effect and Jeff Sessions hasn’t wasted any time with his response. While we in Arizona are not as immediately impacted by the act, there is still reason to be concerned. MITA AZ was not entirely unprepared for this and are ready to begin the process of taking action and bringing the debate of protecting patient rights, employee rights, and a flourishing Arizona industry as well as a new tax base for all citizens to the forefront of the 2018 State legislative session.

Through the support of legislators friendly and supportive of  “states rights” and opposed to “federal preemption” and cooperation with The Arizona Cannabis Bar Association, MITA AZ is spearheading the introduction of a bill similar to the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. This bill will call for State officials to be preempted from actively expanding state resources on supporting federal actions which undermine the will of the citizens of the State of Arizona. This is unprecedented territory but we are not going to let this go unnoticed and will call upon our fellow Arizonans who support our independence to protect our state from this unnecessary and unwanted federal overreach.

We ask for your support in the coming months and to come learn more about the happenings in our industry on January 24 at the next MITA AZ meeting. FORTITUDE lobbying will speak about this measure whose current proposed language is below.

“1) No officer, employee, or agent of the State of Arizona, its law enforcement agencies, or law enforcement agencies of any subdivision of the State may be used to assist Federal law enforcement in the investigation, detention, or prosecution of persons that are authorized to use, distribute, possess, consume, manufacture, or cultivate medical marijuana in accordance with the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.


2) No funds of the State of Arizona, or any of its subdivisions, may be used to assist federal law enforcement in the investigation, detention, or prosecution of persons that are authorized to use, distribute, possess, consume, manufacture, or cultivate medical marijuana in accordance with the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.”

We know the DOJ’s hands are still tied with respect to medical marijuana states as the protections for legal marijuana dispensaries and patients are still protected today under the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment but this is not enough. This amendment, which basically states that the DOJ cannot use any of its funds to prevent states from implementing a law that authorizes the cultivation, distribution, possession and/or use of medical marijuana, is up for renewal January 19, 2018.

There is also more that can be done before this date. This is now the most pressing issue before Congress for all of us to pay attention too. We must pay close attention to Senator Leahy’s appropriations amendment which will prevent the DOJ from using resources to undermine state medical cannabis laws. (The Senate’s version of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment in the House we have historically been protected by.)  

Notably, we now know that the defense is happening across party lines; “A U.S. senator from the first state to regulate marijuana sales, Colorado, said he feels betrayed by the attorney general. Republican Sen. Cory Gardner said Thursday’s announcement contradicts what he was told by Sessions before he was confirmed as AG. The congressman is prepared “to take all steps necessary,” including holding up the confirmation of Justice Department nominees, “until the attorney general lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.”

This is where you come in. Every voter, whether a consumer or a business owner, needs to call their STATE Congressperson and let them know you oppose the actions being taken by Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice. We are also calling on our industry to lobby Senator Jeff Flake to take a stance similar to Republican Colorado Senator Cory Gardner and to put a hold on Justice Dept nominees. Or anything important to Jeff Sessions for that matter for infringing on commitments made by President Trump to protect States rights.