News outlets and Twitter are ablaze — Attorney General Eric Holder this morning announced that the federal government would not seek to preempt Washington and Colorado as they work to implement their recreational cannabis industries.

Attorney General Eric Holder
Attorney General Eric Holder

Before getting to the good news, understand that this is not all candy and rainbows. Possession, cultivation, and distribution of marijuana remain federal crimes and punitive tax and banking laws remain in place. Still, this announcement will have far-reaching implications on cannabis businesses and througout the cannabis union, and will likely ease relationships with reticent third parties like banks, landlords, municipal governments, and security companies. Holder’s memo gives these groups some cover for doing business with cannabis entrepreneurs.

The Attorney General’s announcement (actually written by Deputy AG James M. Cole), sets out the following eight as enforcement priorities, compliance with which will lead the Feds to stay away:

  1. Preventing distribution of marijuana to minors;
  2. Preventing cannabis revenues from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels;
  3. Preventing diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal to other states;
  4. Preventing state-authorized activity from being used as a cover for illegal activity, including trafficking of other illegal drugs;
  5. Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;
  6. Preventing drugged driving and exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
  7. Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands;
  8. Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.

As cannabis lawyers, we can easily live with this list, especially since we are always advising our clients to avoid the above “bad eight” in any event.