Las Vegas Now CBS 8: I-Team: Nevada’s marijuana industry reacts to anti-pot move by U.S. Attorney General Sessions

Jan 5, 2018
In The News

LAS VEGAS - Nevada's marijuana industry reacted to an anti-pot move by United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday.

The industry says this could be a threat to businesses.

Marijuana is not legal federally, but it's legal in Nevada. However, federal laws trump state laws.

Under President Barack Obama, federal prosecutors were discouraged from cracking down on marijuana businesses.  But, Attorney General Sessions' announcement Thursday gives prosecutors the green light to go after those in the industry.

"I'm very worried and disappointed at the same time," said Cristina Alfonso-Zea, medical marijuana advocate.

Alfonso-Zea says she's a veteran who relies on medical marijuana to treat her Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"I'm worried that it's going to be taken away," Alfonso-Zea said.  I'm worried that my health is going to deteriorate automatically just because I don't have this."

There is concern about the move by Sessions to allow local U.S. attorneys to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws. That nixes the Obama era directives for the feds to lay off enforcement and let states handle the issue.

There was a strong reaction to Sessions' move from customers, patients, marijuana industry leaders and lawmakers.

"This is a clear example, and I mean a clear example of federal overreach," said Nevada State Senator Aaron Ford.

"Why would they do this," said State Senator Tick Segerblom.  "What are they thinking?  It's crazy.  Our voters want it.  My constituents want it, and we really don't want this uncertainty."

Doctor Nick Spirtos, a cancer surgeon, is one of five physicians who run the Apothecary Shoppe.

"We could be raided," said Dr. Spirtos. "We could get closed down tomorrow.  Our studies could come to an end.  All of the work we put in this could go up in smoke tomorrow."

On Wednesday, a Texas prosecutor was named the interim U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada.  Congresswoman Dina Titus, D-NV, says she hasn't been in contact with her but like many, would like to know how she will handle the controversial directive from Sessions.

"I'm not sure it's appropriate to lobby a U.S. Attorney, but we want to try to educate the person, so she knows about Nevada and not just about Texas where she came from," Titus said.

We've reached out to a spokeswoman for the interim U.S. Attorney to get answers about how she will handle the directive by Sessions, but she said "no comment."