In a long-anticipated move, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in January he was rescinding the hands-off approach taken by the Obama administration regarding marijuana enforcement. Illinois has decriminalized the drug and has a medicinal program.
The policy change will allow federal prosecutors to prioritize possession, distribution, and cultivation activity of the drug which is still an illegal substance under the Controlled Substances Act.
This leaves marijuana-friendly states with some uncertainty. Although Scott Abbott, COO of HCI Alternatives, which operates medical cannabis dispensaries in Springfield and the metro east, says there’s still a hierarchy of review, and a law-abiding agency won’t be impacted.
“Unless someone in the cannabis industry, unless they are committing crimes that are so egregious that would reach that federal threshold, they’re not going to do anything and quite frankly if they were reaching that threshold they should be arrested; they should be held accountable.”
In a statement, U.S. Attorney John Childress echoed Abbott saying the decision won't change enforcement throughout the state.
“For citizens of central Illinois, the Justice Department memo issued today on marijuana enforcement does not change long-established prosecutorial principles to enforce federal law,” stated Childress. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work together with our law enforcement partners, to promote the safety and interests of our local communities.”