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Lawmakers, including 10 from OR and WA, ask Trump to respect legal pot

January 25, 2018
In The News

Lawmakers, including many from Oregon and Washington, are sending a message to the White House in defense of the legal marijuana industry.

Senators Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Suzanne Bonamici, Pramila Jayapal, Adam Smith and Denny Heck were among 54 members of Congress who sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to respect the wish of voters who legalized marijuana.

The letter follows a decision earlier this month from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to rescind the Cole Memorandum, an Obama-era policy on marijuana under which federal prosecutors allowed states to determine their own marijuana laws.

MORE: Gov. Brown calls federal marijuana policy rollback ‘deeply concerning’

In the letter, the lawmakers say that this move is putting “jobs, small businesses, state infrastructure, consumers, minorities, and patients” all at risk.

“These new policies have helped eliminate the black market sale of marijuana and allowed law enforcement to focus on real threats to public health and safety,” the letter states. “This action by the Department of Justice has the potential to unravel efforts to build sensible drug policies that encourage economic development as we finally move away from antiquated practices that have hurt disadvantaged communities.”

Sessions has stated the new guidance allows prosecutors to decide how aggressively to pursue marijuana cases, calling it a “return to the rule of law.”

"It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission," he said.

MORE: Oregon, Washington lawmakers weigh in on Sessions’ marijuana move

While recreational marijuana use is currently legal in eight states, with Vermont scheduled to become the ninth in July, it still technically violates federal law.