Rohrabacher Signs Bipartisan Letter to President For Marijuana States Rights
WASHINGTON – Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-CA, today joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers requesting that President Trump urge Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reinstate the Cole Memorandum.
The Cole Memorandum, revoked by the attorney general this month, was a Justice Department guideline observed during the Obama administration that restrained federal officers from prosecuting marijuana cases, many states having liberalized laws pertaining to medical and adult marijuana usage.
Restoring the previous policy would create a pathway to a more comprehensive marijuana policy that respects state interests, write the 42 representatives and 10 senators.
On Jan. 4, 2018, Attorney General Sessions rescinded the Cole Memorandum – putting jobs, small businesses, state infrastructure, consumers, minorities, and patients at risk. The letter asserts the decision to replace the Cole Memorandum with a new memorandum – one that gives “prosecutorial discretion” to U.S. attorneys and states that “marijuana activity is a serious crime” – will have a chilling effect across the country in states that have followed the will of the voters. Such states, according to the lawmakers, have provided common sense, responsible regulations for marijuana that balance public health and safety needs with limited criminal justice resources.
To date, eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have passed their own laws allowing for adult use of marijuana. Dozens more have passed laws decriminalizing marijuana, or allowing for medicinal use.
“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,” wrote the Members of Congress. “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.”
These state laws, many of which are voter-approved, have been reviewed and implemented in communities across the country. The lawmakers noted that when he was running for president, Donald Trump said, “we should leave (marijuana) up to the states.” Rescinding the Cole Memorandum upends the balance struck between the federal and state governments on marijuana enforcement.