Senators Cantwell, Murray, Bipartisan Colleagues Urge President Trump to Keep Campaign Promise on State Marijuana Laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and 52 of their House and Senate colleagues criticized the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind Department of Justice (DOJ) guidance on state marijuana laws, and urged President Trump to adhere to his campaign promise to respect the will of millions of Americans, including over 1.7 million Washingtonians, who have voted to legalize and regulate marijuana.

In a letter to President Trump, the senators urged the administration to reconsider its decision to rescind the DOJ’s 2013 Cole Memorandum, which has allowed states and localities to decide how best to enforce marijuana laws as long as they have sufficient regulations in place. In particular, Senators Cantwell, Murray and their colleagues pointed to the confusion and anxiety the move has caused in states with recreational marijuana laws.

“This action has the potential to unravel efforts to build sensible drug policies that encourage economic development as we are finally moving away from antiquated practices that have hurt disadvantaged communities,” the members of Congress wrote. “This new guidance will have a chilling effect across the country in states that have worked tirelessly to implement voter-approved laws, creating legal and economic uncertainty.”

The members of Congress also urged President Trump to stand by his previous statements in support of state and local rights regarding marijuana:

“As a candidate, you stated: ‘I really believe we should leave [marijuana] up to the states’ and that ‘it’s got to be a state decision.’ We trust that you still hold this belief, and we request that you urge the Attorney General to reinstate the Cole Memorandum. This step would create a pathway to a more comprehensive marijuana policy that respects state interests and prerogatives.”

In 2012, voters in Washington state approved Initiative 502, providing for the production, processing and sale of marijuana to be regulated, licensed, and taxed. Eight other states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Vermont), as well as the District of Columbia, have also passed recreational marijuana laws. Since the nomination of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a long-time opponent of state marijuana legalization, these laws have had an uncertain future.

Last March, Senators Cantwell and Murray wrote a letter to Attorney General Sessions expressing concerns about how rescinding the Cole Memo would impact states, like Washington, that have legalized marijuana. The senators also sent a letter last week urging the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at the Department of the Treasury to continue to allow financial institutions to provide banking services for cannabis businesses in states with legal marijuana.

In addition to Senators Cantwell and Murray, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Brian Schatz (D-HA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Cory Booker (D- NJ), and Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-HA), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Donald Breyer (R-VA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Scott Peters (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), J. Luis Correa (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Adam Smith (D-WA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Denny Heck (D-WA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) also signed the letter.

Full text of the letter can be found HERE.