Since the kickoff of 2017, the cannabis industry continues to make big strides forward as states reviewed budget gaps. Despite hints from the current administration about federal crackdowns, more states continue to push for legalized marijuana laws on their books. With over 50% of the states legalized, and several more considering bills, the federal government may have a tougher time putting the genie back in the bottle.
Reactions from state officials like Bob Ferguson, Washington state’s attorney general along with Governor Jay Inslee appear to be drawing a line in the sand. “I will be very clear with AG Sessions that I will defend the will of Washington voters. My office will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that the federal government does not undermine Washington’s successful, unified system for regulating recreational and medical marijuana,” said Ferguson. Pressing the point more directly, the Washington state governor and district attorney sent a joint letter to Sessions requesting that the JOD “engage” with Washington and other states that have legalized marijuana before changing the federal government’s policies.
Remarks last week from the administration are in direct conflict with the previous administration’s policy. The previous administration’s “Cole Memorandum” stipulates the DOJ place “low priority” on enforcing marijuana laws against businesses and organizations that comply with state laws.
State officials wasted no time publicly commenting in opposition to the potential revenue loss and chaos a crackdown would create.
Oregon and Nevada Senators Wyden (OR) and Ford (NV) both vowed to vigorously defend the state laws currently in place from “federal overreach.”
With much-needed revenues on the chopping block under the new administration’s remarks last week, and as more states continue to pass cannabis legalization, it will be interesting to see how the federal government addresses this issue in the coming weeks.