The First Order appeared to be closing in on the Resistance last week. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week zapped federal prtions for state cannabis businesses with his Starkiller. Or, to end this nerdy analogy, he withdrew the protections under the Cole Memo with a memo of his own.
The Cole memo had done neat things like prohibit the Justice Department and Federal Drug Administration from using federal resources to crackdown on state-legal cannabis operations. They also advised federal prosecutors to de-prioritize cannabis crimes in states with legal markets.
But now those neat things are now more. So what about the states put in danger by this agressive new federal move? Are they stepping up? You know they are. Here’s a brief rundown of what, just days after Sessions’ announcement, cannabis legal states are doing to fight the good fight.
Up in Wishywash, Governor Jay Inslee has already announced that he will keep a legal cannabis market which “adheres to what we pledged to the people of Washington” and that his government “will vigorously defend our state’s laws against undue federal infringement.”
All that is nice bark. But what about bite? Look no further than Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, who pledged that “Our Seattle Police Department will not participate in any enforcement action related to legal businesses or small personal possession of marijuana by adults. Federal law enforcement will find no partner with Seattle to enforce the rollback of these provisions.” That doesn’t make federal interference of cannabis businesses impossible in Seattle, but it would make them a whole lot harder.
OREGON AND CALIFORNIA
The governor in Washington’s neighbor state had a similar reaction to Inslee. “My staff and state agencies … will fight to continue Oregon’s commitment to a safe and prosperous recreational marijuana market,” said Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.
The most important action the Oregon government is taking against Session is probably renewing the Blumenauer-Rohrabacher amendment, which prohibits the federal government from interfering in medical marijuana markets. Because of the crossover, it also does the work of some recreational businesses as well. The amendment expires on January 19, but lawmakers (Rep. Earl Blumenauer, OR-D, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, CA-R) are hard at work on a continuance for it.
The state’s top federal prosecutor U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer said “his office won’t alter its approach to enforcing marijuana crimes” at all after the changes Sessions made to federal policy, according to the Associated Press.
Gov. John Hickenlooper, having perhaps sampled some of his states’ own wares, basically said, “chill out.” “I think it will be the case where the bark is going to be worse than the bite,” he said. Let’s hope so.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons