• Q and A: Will I still be able to get legal weed?

    By: Casey McNerthney, KIRO 7 , Sadie Gurman, The Associated Press

    Updated:

    On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked an Obama-era policy that was deferential to states' permissive marijuana laws. 

    Sessions is leaving it up to federal prosecutors in states that allow drug sales and use to decide whether to crack down on the marijuana trade.

    What does that mean for the Seattle area and Washington state? Here are the most common questions and answers.

    What was the response from Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes? 

    Speaking of the Trump administration take on marijuana, Durkan said “we will not be guided by chaos” and said the city would not cooperate. 

    Follow this link to see the full comments from Durkan and Holmes.

    What does this mean for Washington state?

    The real-world impact of Sessions' decision remains to be seen. 

    Justice Department officials wouldn't say whether the move is intended for federal prosecutors to specifically target marijuana shops and legal growers. And Sessions is giving broad discretion to U.S. attorneys to decide how aggressively to enforce marijuana law, among all the other demands on their time and limited resources. 

    Rescinding the Obama policy could have a chilling effect on the burgeoning marijuana legalization movement. And it will undoubtedly add to existing confusion over use and enforcement.

    Scroll down to continue reading the Q and A.


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    What is the response from the U.S. Attorney that covers Seattle and King County? 

    Here is the full statement from U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes: 

    Today the Attorney General reiterated his confidence in the basic principles that guide the discretion of all U.S. Attorneys around the country, and directed that those principles shepherd enforcement of federal law regarding marijuana.  He also emphasized his belief that U.S. Attorneys are in the best position to address public safety in their districts, and address the crime control problems that are pressing in their communities.  

    Those principles have always been at the core of what the United States Attorney's Office for Western Washington has done - across all threats to public safety, including those relating to marijuana.  As a result, we have investigated and prosecuted over many years cases involving organized crime, violent and gun threats, and financial crimes related to marijuana.  

    We will continue to do so to ensure - consistent with the most recent guidance from the Department - that our enforcement efforts with our federal, state, local and tribal partners focus on those who pose the greatest safety risk to the people and communities we serve.

    What did the Washington state governor say?

    Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says there will be no change to marijuana policy despite a Trump administration move that could lead to a federal crackdown on sales in states that have legalized the drug.

    Here’s the full story about Inslee’s statement on marijuana policy and the Trump administration.

    Will this affect medical marijuana?

    That's not clear. A federal law blocks the Justice Department from interfering with medical marijuana programs in states where it is allowed. Justice Department officials said they would follow the law, but would not preclude the possibility of medical-marijuana related prosecutions.

    Will this make it harder for businesses that sell marijuana?

    Yes. Many banks already want nothing to do with pot money for fear it could expose them to legal trouble from the federal government. The new uncertainty about how prosecutors will deal with this will only make it harder.

    How many U.S. states allow medical marijuana?

    Twenty-nine U.S. states, as well as the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

    How many states allow recreational marijuana?

    Eight states: Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, California, Alaska, Maine and Massachusetts.

    Another 14 states have decriminalized it, as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands. The District of Columbia legalized recreational marijuana use, but there is no system in place for distribution.

    California started selling recreational marijuana on January 1, three days before the change from Sessions.

    How long has Washington state allowed medical marijuana?

    Medical marijuana has been legal in Washington since 1998.

    When did recreational marijuana become legal in Washington state?

    On Nov. 6, 2012, Washington voters approved marijuana discrimination by a 10-point margin. That allowed recreational marijuana use for people 21 and older. 

    Marijuana was first able to be purchased legally in Washington on July 8, 2014. Washington was the second state behind Colorado to sell recreational marijuana.

    Holmes, the Seattle City Attorney who spoke out Thursday against the Trump administration’s actions, was one of the first to buy legal marijuana at Cannabis City in Seattle. 

    Why is the Attorney General doing this now?

    Sessions has railed against marijuana for years, including as an Alabama senator. A task force he convened had been looking at whether to change the Obama policy, so the move is not especially surprising.

    Can Congress reverse the action of the Attorney General?

    Lawmakers can't necessarily undo an internal Justice Department policy decision. But they can push legislation to protect marijuana sales. And they might. Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado said he plans to reach out to other legislators from states that have legalized recreational marijuana -- Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington -- to seek congressional protection for those programs.

    Can someone still be fired from their job if they smoke legal marijuana?

    Yes. If your employer wants to drug test you and you fail, you can be fired even for medical marijuana. That comes from a 2011 state Supreme Court ruling that doesn’t prevent employers from firing medical marijuana users because of a positive drug test. 

    The State Department of Health also points to section 69.51A.060(7) which says employers may establish drug-free work policies. 

    How much marijuana can someone buy at one time at a Washington pot shop?

    Anyone age 21 or older can buy any combination of the following:
    -    One ounce of usable marijuana 
    -    16 ounces of a marijuana-infused product in solid form
    -    72 ounces of a marijuana-infused product in liquid form or 
    -    Seven grams of marijuana concentrate

    Can people grow their own marijuana in Washington? 

    Medical marijuana patients and designated providers may. See the specifics from the State Department of Health.


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