Senators Plead With Sessions To Leave Legal Marijuana Alone

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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A group of U.S. senators, including one Republican, sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions imploring the Trump administration to back off threats to crackdown on state marijuana laws.

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski joined together in the effort to protect state laws legalizing recreational marijuana use from the powers of the Department of Justice. Nine other senators, all Democrats, signed onto the letter saying states’ efforts should not be impeded. The senators argue in the letter that, “it is essential that states that have implemented any type of practical, effective marijuana policy receive immediate assurance from the DOJ,” in order to eliminate legal confusion throughout the country, reports Yahoo News.

While President Donald Trump promised to respect state laws on marijuana during the election, recent rhetoric from Press Secretary Sean Spicer is sparking anxiety within the industry. Spicer fielded questions on President Donald Trump’s stance on marijuana legalization during a press conference Feb. 23, saying the Department of Justice is likely going to increase enforcement efforts of federal law.

“These voter-approved laws have been evaluated by Governors and state Attorneys General, rigorously debated by state legislatures and the communities they serve, and implemented through thoughtful processes to ensure the proper regulated production and sale of marijuana,” the senators say in the letter. “We respectfully request that you uphold the DOJ’s existing policy regarding states that have implemented strong and effective regulations for recreational marijuana use and ask that the Cole Memorandum remain in place.”

Sessions will review and potentially roll back aspects of the Cole memo, a set of guidelines established in 2013 that direct the Department of Justice to focus marijuana enforcement efforts on violent crimes and distribution in states without legalization laws. Speaking out on the issue for one of the first times in his new position Monday, Sessions claimed there is “more violence around marijuana” than people are generally aware.

Sessions also dismissed research Tuesday showing marijuana can help aid opioid addiction and serve as alternative painkiller for patients with chronic pain.

If Sessions and the Trump administration move to interfere with state pot laws, it could cost the marijuana industry hundreds of thousands of jobs. A report released in February by New Frontier Data projects that an unimpeded marijuana market will create more than 250,000 jobs by 2020. The booming projections for growth stand in stark contrast to manufacturing jobs, which are expected to crater by more than 800,000 by 2024.

Murkowski’s office did not return TheDCNF’S request for comment.

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