When upon a time, the cannabis field had a little something called the Ogden Memorandum. That was back in 2009, prior to any state legalizing cannabis for leisure use. The Ogden Memo gave prosecutorial recommendations to U.S. Lawyers in medical cannabis states. Several people read the Ogden Memo too cavalierly for the feds’ liking (to wit, over 1,000 new Colorado dispensaries opened that year), and Eric Holder’s place of work attempted to interesting field expectations with the first Cole Memo in 2011. A couple several years afterwards, right after Colorado and Washington legalized grownup use cannabis, we obtained the next Cole Memo and its famous 8 federal enforcement priorities to enable manual state lawmaking. The second Cole Memo, which everyone just called the “Cole Memo”, lasted an astonishing 4.5 several years till Jeff Sessions rescinded that steering in early 2017, with a memo of his personal. The Sessions Memo correctly reset every thing to a primitive floor zero, lecturing that “marijuana is a dangerous drug and cannabis exercise is a significant crime.”
Aside from disrupting longstanding federal plan framework on cannabis, the Sessions Memo directed federal prosecutors “to weigh all appropriate considerations” in bringing prosecutions for violations of the federal Controlled Substances Act. As of very last 7 days, one this sort of prosecutor gave express indications as to what appropriate concerns will take precedence in his district. That U.S. Lawyer was Billy Williams of the District of Oregon. So now we now have the Williams Memo.
The Williams Memo is a considerate if considerably uncomfortable doc. In the vintage posture, it reserves prosecutorial discretion and claims nothing to any person. Instead, it points out that attorneys in Mr. Williams’ place of work will mostly aim on 5 enforcement priorities when selecting no matter if to implement the draconian federal legislation towards cannabis operators. Individuals priorities are:
- Overproduction and interstate trafficking
- Preserving Oregon’s children
- Violence, firearms, or other general public protection threats
- Organized crime – together with tax evasion and revenue laundering and
- Preserving organic lands, organic resources, and Oregon’s environment.
The one that has state compliant operators a little anxious is “overproduction,” given that the Oregon legislature has not capped cannabis licenses and does not involve verticality in licensees. When I say “a little worried” I imply pretty little: So far, of the massive variety of Oregon cannabis and cannabis-adjacent consumers my company signifies, I have heard from particularly zero of them with problems over the Williams Memo. The only people I have heard from are reporters.
Still, the Williams Memo is essential for the reason that it could serve as a template for U.S. attorneys in other states, and it illustrates the curious and not comfortable bind that U.S. attorneys in states like Oregon obtain them selves. These attorneys are not likely to try to shutter licensed and compliant cannabis organizations. It would be too pricey, too politically hazardous, and in the end, too late. On the other hand, when you have significant issues of overproduction, and particularly interstate leakage, federal actors appointed by “tough on crime” executives could sense compelled to say a little something. So Williams did.
For states like Oregon, the toughest element about overproduction is that it is pushed by considerable and unrelenting need beyond the four corners of the state. This implies that if Oregon were to cap cannabis licenses tomorrow, or to shrink the pool of accessible licenses to a pretty smaller variety over time, black market exercise would persist. Price ranges for illegal cannabis would increase in Oregon, but there is nothing to propose that need would lower in other places. Mentioned another way: As very long as there is need for Oregon cannabis nationwide, Oregon cannabis will ship nationwide.
Federal drug enforcement plan in the U.S. has normally centered on the source aspect, with abysmal results. (If you’d like to have an understanding of the economics of this, there are numerous several years of data and findings, e.g. listed here, listed here and listed here.) Still, the federal federal government refuses to abandon or adequately reform its source-aspect policies. For its element, the Oregon legislature recently enacted SB 1544, which resources interdiction of illegal grows at the state degree, but the degree of funding is not likely to kneecap black market exercise in any genuine sense. Southern Oregon particularly will normally be a banana belt for cannabis.
Offered market dynamics and the failures of federal prohibition, the Williams Memo does a pleasant work of walking the line concerning what Williams’ bosses almost certainly want and what Oregonians surely want, as demonstrated by Evaluate 91 and in other places. Ultimately, this memo is one of a kind in that is was penned by a U.S. District Lawyer, but it is nothing new. And it really should not make any difference a lot for state-compliant organizations.