On the campaign trail, candidate Donald Trump said cannabis legalization should be left to the states. “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” he said in October 2015. “I really believe we should leave it up to the states.”
With the threat of a federal crackdown looming, a bipartisan group of congressional representatives is now urging the president to stand by his own words. “We trust you still hold this belief,” the group, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) wrote this week in letter to the White House.
It’s the latest in a growing number of actions by members of Congress to defend and support state cannabis laws.
That letter, signed by 54 members of the US Senate and House and sent Thursday, calls on Trump to direct US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reinstate the Cole memo, a Justice Department policy that urged prosecutors not to interfere in legal-cannabis states. Sessions rescinded the Obama-era memo earlier this month.
That rescission, wrote federal lawmakers, “puts jobs, small businesses, state infrastructure, consumers, minorities, and patients at risk. This action has the potential to unravel efforts to build sensible drug policies that encourage economic development as we are finally moving away from antiquated practices that have hurt disadvantaged communities.”
In place of the Cole memo, the attorney general’s new directive stresses that “marijuana activity is a serious crime” and leaves it to individual US attorneys to decide whether to bring charges in legal states. “This new guidance,” wrote the group of lawmakers, “will have a chilling effect across the country in states that have worked tirelessly to implement voter-approved laws, creating legal and economic uncertainty.”
The letter is the latest in a growing number of actions by members of Congress to defend and support state cannabis laws.