Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the move to rescind the Cole Memo, which had been protecting states’ rights to legalize marijuana without fear of prosecution from the federal government. Since then we’ve seen an outpouring of support for legal cannabis – from Vermont’s bold move to legalize marijuana, to former Republican Congressman Ron Paul calling Sessions “un-American.” Now, 54 lawmakers, both Democrat and Republican alike, have sent a letter to President Trump, asking him to direct Sessions to back-off when it comes to state-legal cannabis.
“We write with urgent concern regarding the recent steps taken by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to disrupt state efforts to implement their own marijuana enforcement policies,” reads the letter.
The group of over 50 lawmakers who sent the letter is led by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Representative Jared Polis of Colorado. Both lawmakers come from states where voters have made the decision to legalize cannabis. In Colorado, we’ve seen a successful transition so far, and Massachusetts is set to have their first commercial dispensaries open sometime this summer. As a group, these legislators have called President Trump out on his campaign trail statements, where he said that marijuana should be a state by state decision.
“As a candidate, you stated: ‘I really believe we should leave [marijuana] up to the states’ and that ‘it’s got to be a state decision,’ ” the letter stated. “We trust that you still hold this belief, and we request that you urge the Attorney General to reinstate the Cole Memorandum.”
This is one of many efforts being made by lawmakers to protect the states’ rights to legalize cannabis without fear of federal interference. Rep. Jared Polis and Senator Cory Gardner, both of Colorado, have threatened to block nominees to the Justice Department until Sessions reinstates the Cole Memo. They had also previously sent a letter to President Trump themselves back on January 4th, as soon as news of Sessions’ latest move broke.
“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. 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.”
Pointing out the many ways that legalization has improved on communities and states when compared to the last decades of prohibition and the War on Drugs, these lawmakers are making efforts to protect state-legal cannabis industries. It’s good to see that after over two decades of a growing legalization movement, not only do over half of Americans feel that legalization and regulation is a smarter choice, but now, many lawmakers from both sides of the fence feel the same way as well.