While many leaders at the state and federal levels remain on the sidelines in the battle against the Jeff Sessions over cannabis regulation, the mayors of major cities are leading the way.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock — two big cities with the most mature legal marijuana industries — have joined forces with other local leaders to push back against Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement for tougher enforcement of federal cannabis laws.
Last week, Sessions rescinded Obama-era guidelines referred to as the Cole and Ogden memos, which essentially signaled to states that the federal government would not interfere with their legal marijuana laws.
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“Reversing course now is a misguided legal overreach and an attack on cities where legal, safe, and high(ly) regulated recreational sale and use occurs,” the mayors wrote in a Jan. 1o letter to Sessions.
Below is the full letter:
Dear Attorney General Sessions:
We write to express our deep concern with your decision to rescind the “Cole Memo.” This guidance clarified federal marijuana enforcement policy in states in light of legalization which, as you know, is now legal for some purposes in 28 states and the District of Columbia.
When the Department of Justice (DOJ) clarified its policy on legal marijuana, it took a step forward in properly deprioritizing criminal enforcement of legal marijuana, and ensured that states had clear guidance on how to implement medical marijuana to help patients and end the black market. This allowed the federal authority, with state and municipal partners, to focus efforts on protecting children and targeting organized crime, and ending cartel-related activity. Reversing course now is a misguided legal overreach and an attack on cities where legal, safe, and highly regulated recreational sale and use occurs, and on the majority of states where the voters have made their voices heard loud and clear on this issue.
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With overdose deaths, primarily caused by opioids, at an all-time high throughout this country, the federal government should be a better partner to help combat this epidemic. President Trump and DOJ should not waste our law enforcement resources and taxpayer money on prosecuting legal activity and instead prioritize their efforts on ending the scourge of the opioid crisis.
We will do everything we can within the rule of law to keep our residents safe, end the opioid crisis, and ensure our businesses, residents, and visitors are protected from this overreach.
The letter was signed by the following mayors:
- Jenny A. Durkan, Seattle, WA
- Michael B. Hancock, Denver, CO
- Bill de Blasio, New York, NY
- Jim Kenney, Philadelphia, PA
- Robert Garcia, Long Beach, CA
- Ted Wheeler, Portland, OR
- Paul Soglin, Madison, WI
- Jonathan Rothschild, Tucson, AZ
- Karen Freeman-Wilson, Gary, IN
- Pauline Cutter, San Leandro, CA