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Federal Prosecutors Are Holding A Closed-Door ‘Marijuana Summit’ This Week



U.S. attorneys, federal regulators, cannabis businesses and the nation’s leading prohibitionist group will convene for a behind-closed-doors marijuana summit on Thursday.

The invite-only event, hosted by Oregon’s U.S. attorney, is being held at the federal courthouse in Portland and will feature “short presentations, moderated discussion and Q&A,” according to an agenda obtained by Marijuana Moment.

It will be the second summit of its kind, following up on a similar event that the federal prosecutor, Billy Williams, held last year that was largely seen as hostile to legalization and which came about after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded Obama-era guidance on federal cannabis enforcement priorities. Gov. Kate Brown (D) spoke at the earlier event and said that federal officials assured her that legitimate marijuana businesses in the state are “not targets of law enforcement.”

Williams also serves as the head of the Justice Department’s Marijuana Working Group, which is tasked with studying the impact of cannabis legalization. He has been critical of Oregon’s marijuana program, arguing that illegal diversion is rampant.

“The goal of this gathering is to provide a sharing of perspectives on the current state of marijuana,” the agenda for this week’s event states.

U.S. attorneys from California, Washington, Florida, Colorado, and Vermont and will speak on a panel at the start of the summit.

Also appearing will be Mike Stuart, the federal prosecutor from the Southern District of West Virginia who’s regularly expressed hostility to cannabis reform and held a separate “marijuana symposium” last year that followed a similar theme.

After the prosecutors panel, representatives of the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Oregon Department of Agriculture and the cannabis company Oregon CBD are scheduled to discuss the “current and future landscape” of hemp and CBD.

During another panel discussion, an official from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the U.S. deputy surgeon general and a cannabis education coordinator from the Colorado Health Department will talk about the risks associated with underage use and driving while impaired. They’ll be joined by Kevin Sabet, president of the anti-legalization Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM).

SAM has worked closely with the surgeon general, who issued an advisory last week warning against cannabis use by pregnant women and adolescents and later appeared at a follow-up event with Sabet.

The executive director of the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program overseeing Oregon and Idaho is set to appear at a law enforcement-focused panel alongside the chief postal inspector and the sheriff of Jackson County, Oregon.

Finally, MAPS Credit Union’s chief risk officer Rachel Pross and the executive director of NuLeaf, a social equity-focused cannabis nonprofit will close the event with a conversation about “economic, and justice considerations” related to marijuana legalization.

In July, Pross represented the Credit Union National Association during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on how cannabis businesses lack access to financial services under federal prohibition.

While U.S. attorneys may have personal views on how to best navigate the federal-state quagmire of cannabis laws, President Donald Trump said last week that as far as his administration is concerned, marijuana legalization should be left up to the states.

Marijuana Moment reached out to Pross, Oregon’s Williams and the Colorado Health Department official for comment about the summit but they were not immediately available.

Read the full agenda for the federal marijuana summit below: 

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Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.


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