Why Maryland Cannabis Businesses, Lawyers Aren't Worried About DOJ Changes

Emily Burned Featured in the Baltimore Business Journal

Morgan Eichensehr Reporter, Baltimore Business Journal

Attorneys and businesses owners involved in Maryland's medical marijuana industry do not think the Department of Justice's recent anti-legalization moves will have any real effect on the state.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last Thursday his decision to rescind Obama-era policies that essentially permitted state-based marijuana legalization without federal interference. It was a move that Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said could cause fear and disruption in nascent marijuana industries across the country, as technically federal law — which still holds that the possession, use and sale of marijuana is illegal — trumps any state legalization measure.

Emily Burns, an attorney with Offit Kurman's Cannabis Law Practice, said in fact, Sessions's decision doesn't really change things in any concrete way. Technically, she pointed out, the Obama administration's policies never provided any true legal protection and federal prosecutors have always been free to pursue charges for marijuana law violations if they so chose. But medical marijuana states, like Maryland, do have a little extra legal protection, Burns said.

A provision called the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, now called Rohrabacher-Blumenauer, which was passed in 2014 prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent states from implementing medical marijuana laws. The amendment has been renewed in budget votes each year since its passing, and is up for renewal again this month.

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ABOUT EMILY BURNS | 410.209.6454

Emily became passionate about pursuing a legal career in the cannabis industry while attending Vanderbilt Law School, as she had the opportunity to enroll in one of the nation's first Marijuana Law and Policy courses, taught by leading marijuana law and policy scholar, Professor Robert Mikos. Emily soon began assisting Professor Mikos with writing a first-of-its-kind casebook entitled Marijuana Law, Policy, and Authority, acquiring in-depth knowledge of the various state regulations governing cannabis consumers, producers, and other third parties. In addition to having expert knowledge of the complex legal issues presented by conflicting federal-state marijuana laws, Emily is also involved in marijuana policy reform efforts at the federal level. By incorporating her knowledge of marijuana policy with her understanding of the legal and regulatory environment, Emily is able to anticipate and identify potential legal concerns ex-ante.




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