A bipartisan group of 54 U.S. senators and House members are joining together with “urgent concern” to ask President Trump to uphold his campaign pledge to respect state marijuana laws.
Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded Obama-era guidance (known as the “Cole Memorandum”) that has generally allowed states to implement their own cannabis laws without federal intervention.
“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 group of lawmakers, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), wrote to the president on Thursday. “These new policies have instead helped eliminate the black market sale of marijuana and allowed law enforcement to focus on real threats to public health and safety.”
The lawmakers cited Trump statements from the presidential race saying he “really believe[s] we should leave [marijuana] up to the states” and that “it’s got to be a state decision” on legalization.
I joined a bipartisan group of House and Senate colleagues in sending a letter to @POTUS demanding that he urge AG Jeff Sessions to respect #marijuana laws in Colorado & other states. Candidate Trump said he’d do this, and we're holding him accountable. https://t.co/qR3ftHCVug pic.twitter.com/Nz40e29hoN
— Rep. Diana DeGette (@RepDianaDeGette) January 25, 2018
“We trust that you still hold this belief,” they wrote.
The Republican and Democratic signatories want the president to direct Sessions to put the Obama administration’s guidance on state marijuana laws back in force.
“[W]e request that you urge the Attorney General to reinstate the Cole Memorandum,” the senators and representatives wrote. “This step would create a pathway to a more comprehensive marijuana policy that respects state interests and prerogatives. On behalf of the communities we represent, we hope you appreciate the critical nature of this issue and take immediate action.”
The lawmakers, in an appeal to conservative reverence for states’ rights, added:
“The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution constrains the role federal government has in intrastate policy. Rescinding the Cole Memo upends the careful balance struck between the federal and state governments on marijuana enforcement.”
Sessions’s move to undo the state protections this month generated immediate bipartisan pushback from a large number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Read the full letter below:
Photo courtesy of Ted Eytan.