The National Law Review | Kayla D. Dreyer and Shawna Ruetz | January 23, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s January 4, 2018, Memorandum for All U.S. Attorneys explicitly rescinds all prior nationwide guidance on marijuana-related offenses under the federal Controlled Substance Act (CSA) issued from the U.S. Department of Justice, including Deputy Attorney General James Cole’s August 29, 2013, Memorandum for All U.S. Attorneys (Cole Memo). The Cole Memo was until recently the guidepost for federal prosecutors in using their discretion to enforce marijuana-related offenses under the CSA. The Cole Memo directly addressed the conflict between state laws legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes and the CSA, and set forth a new, albeit more lenient, list of priorities for prosecution and enforcement of certain marijuana-related offenses under federal law. The relaxed policy articulated in the Cole Memo spurred the state legalization of marijuana.