In Washington D.C., trepidation and bewilderment have been the new norm for policymakers representing states that have reformed their marijuana laws. Appalled the new Trump administration could attempt to roll back their voter-approved reforms, more than a few senators have reached out to the new Attorney General seeking clarification from the Department of Justice (DOJ).
After privately confirming to Sen. Rand Paul that Sessions would “have some respect for states’ right[s],” and leaving Sen. Cory Gardner with the distinct impression that “nothing at this point has changed,” a DOJ spokesperson confirmed the Jeff Sessions era would adhere to the past administration’s policy, according to politico.com.
“The department’s current policy is reflected in the 2013 Cole Memo.”
Urging Sessions to maintain the DOJ’s current policy, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren fired off a letter to the new AG on Thursday. Signed by nine other senators, the apprehensive group of bipartisan legislators requested AG Sessions maintain the Obama administration’s hands-off policy.
“We write to express our concern regarding recent remarks by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggesting the Department of Justice (DOJ) may begin enforcement against states that have legalized marijuana, and ask that you clarify DOJ’s policy regarding state marijuana laws. To date, eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing for the recreational use of marijuana, 28 states have medical marijuana laws, and 21 states have decriminalized the use o f marijuana. These voter-approved laws have been evaluated by Governors and state Attorneys General, rigorously debated by state legislatures and the communities they serve, and implemented through thoughtful processes to ensure the proper regulated production and sale of marijuana.”
In hopes of encouraging the DOJ to continue its Obama-era policy, the following 11 senators spoke up for their constituents and the 10th amendment: Colorado Sen. Michael F. Bennet, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz, Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey, Washington State Sen. Maria Cantwell, Oregon Sen. Jeffrey Merkley, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, Washington State Sen. Patty Murray, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Poised to protect their constituents, Warren and Murkowski concluded in the letter “It is essential that states that have implemented any type of practical, effective marijuana policy receive immediate assurance from the DOJ that it will respect the ability of states to enforce thoughtful, sensible drug policies in ways that do not threaten the public’s health and safety.”
Finger crossed, A.G. Sessions and the new administration will respect states’ rights and the will of the voters.
Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett