January 25, 2018

Cortez Masto Urges President Trump to Protect State Marijuana Laws

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Jared Polis (D-Colo.) in a bipartisan letter to President Trump requesting he urge Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reinstate the Cole Memorandum. Doing so would create a pathway to a more comprehensive marijuana policy that respects state interests. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Don Young (R-Alaska), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) joined Senator Warren and Representative Polis in leading the letter.

On January 4, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memorandum – putting jobs, small businesses, state infrastructure, consumers, minorities, and patients at risk. His decision to replace the Cole Memorandum with a new memorandum that provides “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 worked tirelessly to follow the will of the voters and provide common sense, responsible regulations for marijuana that balance public health and safety needs with limited criminal justice resources.

To date, nine states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have passed their own laws allowing for the recreational 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 carefully reviewed and thoughtfully implemented in communities across the country. The Members of Congress noted that when he was running for president, Donald Trump declared that “we should leave (marijuana) up to the states.” Rescinding the Cole Memo only upends the careful balance struck between the federal and state governments on marijuana enforcement.

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Brain Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Cory Booker (D- N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D- DC), Donald Breyer (R-Va.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Carlos Curbelo (D-Fla.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), J. Luis Correa (D-Calif.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) also signed the letter.