States unhappy with rollback of hands-off federal guidelines on pot laws

News
This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

States that allow marijuana use reacted with frustration to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ rescinding of Obama-era guidelines that established a hands-off approach to their marijuana-friendly laws.

Several states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana use, but it’s still illegal under federal law. Among the Justice Department memos, the “Cole memo” in 2013 released a directive to federal prosecutors, adopting the non-interference policy.

Federal prosecutors nationwide now will decide how to enforce federal marijuana laws in states where its use is legal.

Here is how some state officials reacted:

California

“Today, Jeff Sessions and the Trump Administration destructively doubled down on the failed, costly and racially discriminatory policy of marijuana criminalization, trampling on the will” of voters, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

This week, California became the eighth state — along with the District of Columbia — to allow recreational sales of marijuana after voters approved the measure in 2016. Another 22 states allow only medical marijuana and 15 allow a lesser medical marijuana extract.

Newsom said Sessions’ move “flies in the face of overwhelming public opinion of a vast majority of Americans, who support marijuana legalization.”

“I call on our federal leaders to move quickly to protect states’ rights from the harmful effects of this ideological temper tantrum by Jeff Sessions,” said Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco.

Colorado

Colorado officials were surprised by the announcement, state Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman said.

“I will say that there was no warning about this guidance. We had no idea it was coming, and like you, we woke up this morning to the news that there was new direction from Attorney General Sessions,” Coffman said.

She said there is a lot state officials still don’t know the Justice Department’s enforcement priorities and how it plans to implement the new memo.

But Coffman said she doesn’t foresee a major shift in Colorado in the current marijuana enforcement and regulation.

“We will continue as a state to exert our right as a sovereign state to control what happens in our borders with regard to marijuana regulation and enforcement,” she said.

In 2012, voters in Colorado passed a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Oregon

Gov. Kate Brown said some 19,000 jobs had been created by the marijuana market.

“Reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will roll back federal marijuana policy are deeply concerning and disruptive to our state’s economy,” she said.

Oregon voted in 2014 to legalize personal possession, manufacture and sale of marijuana for people 21 years of age and older.

Brown said “the federal government should not stand in the way of the will of Oregonians.”

Brown said her staff and state agencies “will fight to continue Oregon’s commitment to a safe and prosperous recreational marijuana market.”

Washington state

Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement that he was “especially frustrated” by reports that the “Cole memo” would be rescinded. Inslee said called it “the wrong direction for our state.”

“It is also disrespects Washington voters who have chosen a different path for our state,” he said.

Washington voters passed a law in 2012 to legalize marijuana for adults over 21. The first dispensaries started opening in 2014.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he was “disappointed and troubled” by the news.

“Over the past year, Sessions has demonstrated a stunning lack of knowledge about our state’s marijuana laws,” Ferguson said.

By Darran Simon, CNN

Trademark and Copyright 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

Popular

Latest News

More News