Earlier this month Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Department of Justice would do away with the Obama era policy of federal oversight on marijuana.
What does the announcement mean for Utah?
“Marijuana is a controlled substance on the federal level,” said Mellissa Ure, a public policy analysist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “The state law has it as a controlled substance as well, meaning it’s schedule one, you can’t possess it period. What Jeff Sessions was talking about is the Cole Memorandum which had been put in place by the previous administration, which said, ‘We’re not going to prosecute marijuana in states where it is legal.’ Jeff Sessions, what he has done is said, ‘No we’re not going to follow that anymore.”
Since possession of marijuana in Utah is already illegal, Sessions’ announcement doesn’t impact the state.
Medical marijuana advocate Representative Brad Daw, a Republican from Orem, is proposing legislation that would legalize medical marijuana in Utah.
Representative Daw is also proposing legislation that would allow farmers to grow and study industrial hemp under close supervision of the USDA. The current law only allows industrial hemp to be studied by universities.
Ure said researching industrial hemp and the legalization of medical marijuana are two separate conversations that will be discussed during the legislative session.