Several legal observers say that there are limited ways for Oregon officials to defend state-regulated cannabis businesses in the courts in light of changes to federal guidance on enforcement of the drug.

Marijuana has been legal under Oregon law since July 2015, but it remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday rescinded an Obama-era policy, referred to as the Cole Memo, that guided federal law enforcement to focus on larger-scale violations of federal law rather than target state-compliant marijuana operations. The action opens even marijuana businesses complying with state regulations open to prosecution.

Sessions did not mandate such prosecutions but instead gave federal prosecutors in each state authority to decide where they would focus their enforcement actions.

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