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A new set of priorities for federal prosecutors operating in states which have legalized the use of marijuana. The “Cole memo” shifted government priorities away from strict enforcement of federal cannabis prohibition and toward a more hands-off approach.

This policy intends to focus limited resources where they are most crucial;

  • Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors;
  • Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels;
  • Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
  • Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
  • Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;
  • Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
  • Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands; and
  • Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.
cole memo marijuana federal hands off approach
Federal cannabis prohibition toward a hands off approach

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