Wyden, Merkley, Blumenauer, DeFazio, Bonamici Urge Action to Protect State Marijuana Laws in Bipartisan Letter to Trump

Washington, DC – Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Suzanne Bonamici and 49 of their Senate and House colleagues sent a bipartisan letter today to Trump requesting he urge Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reinstate the Cole Memorandum. Doing so would create a pathway to a more comprehensive marijuana policy that respects state interests. 

On January 4, 2018, Sessions rescinded the Cole Memorandum – putting jobs, small businesses, state infrastructure, consumers, minorities, and patients at risk. His decision to replace the Cole Memorandum with a new memorandum that provides “prosecutorial discretion” to U.S. attorneys and states that “marijuana activity is a serious crime” will have a chilling effect across the country in states that have worked tirelessly to follow the will of the voters and provide common sense, responsible regulations for marijuana that balance public health and safety needs with limited criminal justice resources. 

To date, nine states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have passed their own laws allowing for the recreational adult use of marijuana. Dozens more have passed laws decriminalizing marijuana, or allowing for medicinal use. 

“These new policies have helped eliminate the black market sale of marijuana and allowed law enforcement to focus on real threats to public health and safety,” wrote the members of Congress. “This action by the Department of Justice has the potential to unravel efforts to build sensible drug policies that encourage economic development as we finally move away from antiquated practices that have hurt disadvantaged communities.” 

These state laws, many of which are voter-approved, have been carefully reviewed and thoughtfully implemented in communities across the country. The members of Congress noted that when he was running for president, Donald Trump declared that “we should leave [marijuana] up to the states.” Rescinding the Cole Memo only upends the careful balance struck between the federal and state governments on marijuana enforcement. 

Read the full letter here.

Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Brain Schatz, D-Hawaii, Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Cory Booker, D- N.J., Patty Murray, D-Wash. and Representatives Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Don Young, R-Alaska, Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., Hank Johnson, D-Ga., Eleanor Holmes Norton, D- DC, Donald Breyer, R-Va., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Scott Peters, D-Calif., Ted Lieu, D-Calif., Brad Sherman, D-Calif., Jared Huffman, D-Calif., Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Ro Khanna, D-Calif., Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Seth Moulton, D-Mass., Diana DeGette, D-Colo., Mark Pocan, D-Wis., Carlos Curbelo, D-Fla., Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., Michael Capuano, D-Mass., Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., J. Luis Correa, D-Calif., Dina Titus, D-Nev., Adam Smith, D-Wash., Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., Mark Takano, D-Calif., Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., Denny Heck, D-Wash., Adam Schiff, D-Calif., James P. McGovern, D-Mass., Darren Soto, D-Fla., Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. also signed the letter.