Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to rescind an Obama-era memo (the Cole Memo) which directed federal law enforcement to respect states’ marijuana legalization laws.
“This is going to create chaos in the dozens of states whose voters have chosen to regulate medical and adult use marijuana rather than leaving it in the hands of criminals,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership. “The administration’s decision to override voter will and the rights of states protected under the Tenth Amendment is going to throw the criminal justice system off balance, affecting not only those working tirelessly to bring the marijuana trade into the sunlight, but also thousands of state officials just trying to do their jobs.”
Major Franklin continues; “If enforcement of laws are subject to the whims of individual prosecutors, no one will have any idea what is legal or what isn’t – because it could change from day to day. There’s no greater headache for an officer of the law than not to know where those lines stand, which is exactly why the Cole Memo was put into place.”
Brian Vicente, co-author of the Colorado legalization initiative, Amendment 64, states that’ “Since August 2013, the ‘Cole Memo’ has served as guidance to prosecutors regarding prioritization and prosecutorial discretion with respect to federal marijuana law enforcement. It was not a law or binding policy and, as it explicitly stated, it never altered the Justice Department’s authority to enforce federal marijuana laws. The rescinding of the Cole Memo does not indicate any specific changes in enforcement policy, and it remains to be seen whether it will have any significant impact on the Department’s actions. U.S. attorneys had vast prosecutorial discretion before and they will continue to have the same level of discretion.”
Vincente says that; “We hope federal prosecutors will share the position that President Trump expressed during his campaign, when he stated that marijuana policy should ‘absolutely’ be left to the states. We also strongly encourage them to take into account the strong public support for letting states develop their own marijuana laws. Polls show nearly two-thirds of American voters — including a majority of Republicans — think marijuana should be legal for adult use. Even more have expressed opposition to the federal government interfering in state’s marijuana policy decisions.
“The regulated marijuana market is steadily replacing the criminal market while also creating tens of thousands of jobs and pumping hundreds of millions of dollars of tax revenue into state economies. It would be incredibly counterproductive for the federal government to roll back this progress and hand the marijuana industry back over to cartels and criminals. States like Colorado and Washington have demonstrated that regulating marijuana works. Officials in these states are doing more than ever before to control marijuana, and it would behoove federal authorities to work with them and not against them.”
About Anthony Martinelli
Anthony, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheJointBlog, has worked closely with numerous elected officials who support cannabis law reform, including as the former Campaign Manager for Washington State Representative Dave Upthegrove. He has also been published by multiple media outlets, including the Seattle Times. He can be reached at TheJointBlog@TheJointBlog.com.