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Nevada marijuana industry reacts to possible federal crackdown

Posted at 6:16 PM, Jan 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-05 14:55:27-05

The federal government made a statement against the marijuana industry Thursday.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back guidelines that helped protect businesses in states where pot is legal.

RELATED: Nevada AG evaluating ramifications of DOJ rescinding policy on legal marijuana

Marijuana has never been legal under federal law, and it still isn't.

But before Thursday, U.S. Attorneys in states like Nevada had been operating under guidelines from the President Obama era.

Those guidelines essentially instructed the prosecutors to steer clear of legal, well-run businesses.

Ben Sillitoe, the CEO and co-founder of Oasis Cannabis, explained what Sessions' move meant.

"[He] did not tell any U.S. Attorneys to go after any businesses," Sillitoe said. "What he has done is effectively given discretion to the U.S. Attorneys on which cases to prosecute."

Here in Nevada, there's some uncertainty in the industry because no one really knows our state's U.S. Attorney.

Sessions appointed Dayle Elieson, a Texas prosecutor, on Wednesday.

Whatever Elieson's feelings on the issue, marijuana business owners don't believe they're in immediate jeopardy.

"At the end of the day, the people have spoken, and the horse is out of the barn at this point," said John Mueller, the CEO of Acres Cannabis. "The governor's already put $30 million in tax revenue in the budget."

Sillitoe said he doesn't expect prosecutors to start banging down his doors.

It helps dispensaries that there are lawmakers on their side.

Democratic Congresswoman Dina Titus wishes to see legal marijuana continue to flourish.

"We've got to be sure we pass legislation that puts in place permanent protections," Titus said.

Senator Dean Heller said in a statement: 

"Knowing Attorney General Sessions’ deference to states’ rights,  I strongly encourage the DOJ to meet with Governor Sandoval and Attorney General Laxalt to discuss the implications of changes to federal marijuana enforcement policy. I also urge the DOJ to work with the congressional delegations from states like Nevada that have legalized marijuana as they review and navigate the new policy."

Elieson's office had no comment for this story.