Governors of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington wrote an open letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, asking them to first “engage” the governors before taking any action towards regulating or enforcing laws on marijuana.
The letter was signed by governors Bill Walker, John Hickenlooper, Kate Brown, and Jay Inslee respectively, leaders of the first four states allowing recreational marijuana use. Sessions and Mnuchin were asked to follow the guidelines enacted during the Obama administration concerning marijuana use.
Battling for a legal weed market
This is not the first time politicians join forces to stop Sessions from acting against marijuana legalization. Earlier in March, eleven senators from eight states also reached out to Sessions to follow the existing policies. They decided to do so after White House spokesman Sean Spicer suggested that federal laws would impose further restrictions on recreational marijuana.
The issue is that the Obama administration had openly decided to not intervene in states regarding marijuana policy as long as the jurisdictions had efficient methods for controlling the sale and cultivation of the drug.
According to the letter issued by the senators, in 2013, the Department of Justice issued the Cole Memorandum, explaining that “where states have ‘strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the cultivation, distribution, sale, and production of marijuana,…enforcement of state law by state and local law enforcement and regulatory bodies should remain the primary means of addressing marijuana-related activity.’”
The Cole Memorandum served as the primary guideline for states and Americans concerning how state and federal laws would interact with each other, allowing the Department of Justice to focus its law enforcement resources on other threats to public safety.
President Trump’s opinion on weed encourages State-regulation
It is also stressed that Trump, during his presidential campaign, assured that legalization should be left to the states, despite his personal views. Senators told Sessions that states should be guaranteed by the Department of Justice that they would be respected regarding each jurisdiction’s ability to enforce drug policies that do not attempt against the health of the public.
They claim that this would also protect the state infrastructure, the increased tax revenue, small businesses, and new jobs that have surfaced from the legalization of marijuana.
On the newest letter, governors also cite the Cole Memorandum, assuring that it provides the ideal framework for state regulatory programs.
“Overhauling the Cole Memo is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences. Changes that hurt the regulated market would divert existing marijuana product into the black market and increase dangerous activity in both our states and our neighboring states,” the governors wrote.
In late February, Sessions suggested a crackdown on recreational marijuana. He claimed that smoking the drug was an “unhealthy practice,” and that the THC levels in marijuana nowadays are too high and there have been violent repercussions. According to Sessions, he held a meeting with Nebraska’s attorney general, who assures that people are smuggling in marijuana from Colorado, suggesting that “there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.”
Source: The Cannabist