Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been on the warpath towards a crackdown on marijuana since entering office early this year but the rest of Congress seems to disagree with his position. Even his own Task Force on Crime and Public Safety has not been able to produce anything that supports a crackdown on the plant.
Interactions Between AG Sessions and the Legal Marijuana States
In April this year, the first 4 states to legalize marijuana, Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Colorado, united to write the Attorney General asking that he not make any major changes to the Cole Memo or the way that marijuana is handled without consulting them first. In response to this request to work together, Sessions wrote each state individually to inform them that he was not happy with the legalized marijuana industry and believed that it posed a danger to public health and safety and did not quell the black market. In each letter, he quoted information that was entirely inaccurate or out of date, warranting a reply from each state’s Governor correcting Sessions in an effort to work together with the federal government in a productive way.
Sessions Presenting Inaccurate Data
According to The Cannabist, Alaska’s Governor Bill Walker and Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth responded first. Sessions had cited a report in his letter to the state that dated back to data from 2015. In their response, Alaska stated that “the report simply does not speak to the success or failure of the new regulatory framework” given that the state only began selling marijuana in 2016. Alaska also made sure to make it clear that their youth use rates are not only below the national average but that they are actually going down. Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson were next to respond, stating that the March 2016 Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area report on marijuana that Sessions cited “makes a number of allegations that are outdated, incorrect or based on incomplete information.” They repeatedly asked Sessions for an in person meeting so they could prevent misunderstandings such as these to occur.
Oregon’s Response with Sessions
Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown and Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton responded next, saying that Sessions had cited a report that contained misinformation. They stated that “the Oregon State Police determined that the draft report required significant additional work and revision because the data was inaccurate and the heavily extrapolated conclusions were incorrect.” Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman were the last to respond to Sessions. The state has been known to be a leader in marijuana regulation, providing insight and assistance to other states and countries on the best way to regulate the plant. Their response detailed with great intensity the many ways the state has dealt with public health and safety when it comes to driving under the influence, preventing it from being taken out of state, underage use and emergency hospital visits. They state, “We stand ready to work with our federal partners to fortify what we have built. We are confident that if we work together, we can maintain a responsible regulatory and enforcement model that protects public safety, public health and other law enforcement interests.”
The latest polls indicate that 6 out of 10 Americans believe that marijuana should be legalized and it seems that Sessions himself is aware of the struggle he faces should he move forward with his crackdown.