Washington’s politicos in D.C. finally tell feds: ‘Leave our legal pot alone’

By:  Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Jake Ellison
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Dear federal agents, please don’t take us to court or arrest our people for enacting the will of the people in the creation of a legal market for marijuana.

That’s the gist of a two-page letter sent Monday to the Department of Justice and its leader, Attorney General Eric Holder, by seven members of Washington’s delegation to D.C.

The “legal pot seven” – one might call them – are Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, and Reps. Jim McDermott (Seattle), Adam Smith (Bellevue), Suzan DelBene (Medina), Denny Heck (Olympia) and Derek Kilmer (Gig Harbor).

Here’s the best parts of the letter:

“As federal representatives of these states we request that your Department’s course of action in this matter respect the will of the voters, and that you announce this course of action as soon as possible to assure our citizens that they will not be penalized by the federal government for activities legal under state law

“As DOJ considers its response to Washington and Colorado laws, we hope that you will exercise your significant discretionary authority by choosing not to pursue preemption of these laws, or prosecute our residents and state employees acting in compliance with these laws.

“In addition, we are concerned about the enforcement of banking laws on the state-regulated marijuana industry, which could result in these new businesses resorting to less-secure all-cash transactions.”

Here’s the part where they promise Washington and Colorado will not become the world’s biggest suppliers of marijuana:

“Our states are committed to working cooperatively with DOJ and other federal government agencies to establish robust regulatory systems that will tightly control the sale and use of this substance, prevent outflow to there states and nations, and positively impact efforts to reduce drug trafficking by eliminating opportunities for the marijuana black market.”

Two of the delegates have said they will cosponsor the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013, which would have the federal government respect marijuana laws in the states that have legalized medical or recreational use.

Smith signed onto the law in May and last week, Seattle’s Congressman-for-life Jim McDermott (as Joel Connelly reported) has quietly let it be known to local advocates he will cosponsor the bill.

Introducing the legislation in April, conservative California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrbacher declared:

“This bipartisan bill represents a common sense approach that establishes federal government respect for all states’ marijuana laws.  It does so by keeping the federal government out of the business of criminalizing marijuana in states that don’t want it to be criminal.”

The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act has been spearheaded by Rohrbacher, Rep. Jared Polis, a liberal Colorado Democrat, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat. Its sponsors even include Alaska’s very conservative Republican Rep. Don Young.

The Seattle Times adds that …

The eighth Democrat, Everett’s Rick Larsen, did not sign the new letter. He also opposed I-502.

Larsen is at the Paris Air Show this week at the behest of Gov. Jay Inslee. Larsen’s spokesman, Bryan Thomas, said Larsen chose not to sign because “the Department of Justice is responsible for enforcing federal laws. Congressman Larsen believes the state must work with the Department of Justice to determine a way forward.”