Lawmakers and officials in states with adult-use cannabis laws are speaking out against the enforcement of federal drug laws following comments last week by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer hinting at “greater enforcement” of federal law in those states.
During an appearance on “Meet the Press,” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper indicated he doesn’t think it’s a clear-cut case – it’s an issue of sovereignty – and that he has a responsibility to uphold the state’s constitution. He said that while he didn’t support the legalization initiative in the state he “is getting close” to supporting the legal regime, although he is “not quite there yet.”
“We have made a lot of progress. We didn’t see a spike in teenage use, if anything it’s come down in the last year and we’re getting anecdotal reports of less drug dealers,” he said in the interview. “If you get rid of that black market you’ve got tax revenues to deal with, addictions and some of the unintended consequences of legalized marijuana, maybe this system is better than what was, admittedly, a pretty bad system to begin with.”
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a Seattle Times interview he would “resist any efforts by the Trump administration to undermine the voters of Washington state.”
“When he talks about ‘greater enforcement,’ I take that seriously,” he said, noting that his lawyers are “quite prepared” to take on the federal government regarding the legal cannabis industry in the state.
Earlier this month Ferguson, along with Gov. Jay Inslee, sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions laying out the state’s program.
“Given the limited resources available for marijuana law enforcement, a return to ‘full’ prohibition’ is highly unlikely to end the illicit production, trafficking and consumption of marijuana,” Inslee and Ferguson wrote in the Feb. 15 letter, adding that the state is projecting to see $272 million in taxes derived from the industry this fiscal year.
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom also sent a letter to President Donald Trump and Sessions urging them “not to strip the legal and publically supported industry of its business and hand it back to drug cartels and criminals.”
“Dealers don’t card kids. I urge you and your administration to work in partnership with California and the other eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana for adult use in a way that will let us enforce our state laws that protect the public and our children, while targeting the bad actors,” he wrote in the letter, outlined by the Los Angeles Times.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he would fight the administration on any crackdown attempts.
“I took an oath to enforce the laws that California has passed,” Becerra said in a Daily Republic report. “If there is action from the federal government on this subject, I will respond in an appropriate way to protect the interests of California.”
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