SoCal pot stores concerned about Sessions' change in policy

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Southern California marijuana dispensaries are watching carefully as the Trump administration signals a change in how it enforces drug laws. (KABC)

It's day four of recreational pot sales in Santa Ana.

Business is up at From The Earth dispensary. Susan Peters says she hopes marijuana helps her back pain like it did for her mother.

"This helped her, as well as my sister up in Oregon, so I'm trying it," Peters said.

California is now one of eight states that allow recreational marijuana sales, but it remains illegal under federal law.

Under President Barack Obama, the Cole Memo as it was known, directed prosecutors to focus on "the most significant threats," including marijuana operations tied to cartels and gangs, large-scale drug traffickers and "the diversion" of marijuana to states where it's banned.

On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced federal prosecutors across the country can decide how to prioritize resources to crack down on pot possession, distribution and cultivation in states where it's legal.

"The Cole Memo could have been used for a recipe for enforcement. Instead it was used as an excuse not to enforce federal laws," said Scott Chipman, of San-Diego based Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana. "We would have been just as happy if Sessions had said you know that Cole Memo that was written a few years ago? We're going to use it as guideline for enforcement."

Back in Santa Ana, Mackenna Bardsley, who's helping a lot of first-time marijuana customers, disagrees with Session's shift in policy and hopes it doesn't change anything here in California.

"We're really stuck on the reputation cannabis had back in the day with reefer madness and I think a lot of government officials are still riding on that bandwagon," said Barnsley. "I'm excited to see what the future has in store for us and I think so far so good."
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