The Cole Memo

Marijuana may be illegal in the eyes of the Federal government but it has recently become far less illegal.

In August 2013 the U.S. Justice Department released a memorandum, written by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, clarifying the Federal government’s approach to marijuana cultivation, distribution and sales. Known as “the Cole Memo,” the document offers formal guidance to states that have legalized cannabis in some form or another.

Bottom line? The Justice Department will not pursue criminal charges against marijuana-related businesses that follow state and local regulations and comply with certain Federal guidelines.

The Cole Memo instructs prosecutors to bring marijuana related prosecutions in only eight instances:

  • Sales to minors
  • Money going to criminal enterprises
  • Sales across state lines
  • Sales of other drugs
  • Violence
  • Grown on Federal land
  • Driving under the influence (oddly)

The Cole Memo, for the first time, gives marijuana businesses a clear cut frame-work of rules and regulations to follow regarding exposure to Federal prosecutors.

About Douglas Slain

Doug received a JD from Stanford Law School, a MA from the University of Chicago, and a BA from DePauw University (Phi Beta Kappa). After practicing real estate and finance law at then Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, he founded four national monthly law reporting titles now owned by Thomson-Reuters. He served two consecutive terms as chairman of the American Bar Association’s General Practice section’s Professional Responsibility Committee. Slain was an ABA-appointed rule of law consultant to the Ministry of Economy for the Republic of Latvia as its secured transactions adviser. He taught briefly at Stanford Law School as an adjunct clinical law professor. Slain has been the managing partner of Private Placement Advisors since August 2009. In January 2013 he founded Outliers Network.

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