All signs point to a federal crackdown on states that have legalized recreational cannabis for adult use. In response, five weed-legal states are fighting back.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a policy memo just last week. In the memo, Sessions singles out cannabis and asks law enforcement agencies to review their tactics. He called for “a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana.” Coming from Sessions, who wants greater enforcement of federal weed laws, this raises an alarm. Sessions is well-known as an anti-pot crusader. He recently stated that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
Another sign of a federal crackdown comes from White House press secretary Sean Spicer. On February 23, press asked Spicer about the Trump Administration’s plans regarding cannabis. Would Trump support states’ rights to make their own marijuana laws? Spicer all but told reporters to expect a crackdown. “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement” of federal marijuana laws.
There’s reason to think Spicer is serious. And that’s why these five weed-legal states are fighting back.
A group of 6 California legislators introduced a bill last month aimed at blocking California cops from assisting federal agencies looking to bust people for activities that are legal under the state’s laws.
Under the current policy, local and state law enforcement officials are supposed to work alongside federal drug agents. If the suspect in question is following California cannabis law, the new bill would prevent the feds from accessing the state’s law enforcement resources.
For the 6 legislators behind the bill, it’s all about protecting the voters who legalized recreational cannabis last November.
Fearing a worst-case scenario in the event of a federal crackdown, Colorado is fighting back with a creative strategy.
Colorado has one of the largest legal weed industries in the country. Tax revenue from that industry bests other states with legal weed. In Colorado, cannabis is big business and generates important income for the state.
In order to protect the cannabis supplying that industry, Colorado just passed a bill that would save upwards of 800,000 cannabis plants. Here’s how it works.
The bill reclassifies all of the “recreational” cannabis grown in the state as “medical” marijuana. The change in name would prevent seizure of the plants in the event of a crackdown.
The governor of Alaska has signed on with governors from four other weed-legal states to demand that the federal government simply live and let live.
Alaska’s governor, Bill Walker, is one of the signatories on the letter sent to the Trump administration. The letter asks that the federal government let the legal weed process continue in Alaska.
The letter cites economic incentives as reasons to leave current cannabis laws in place. Alaska’s governor says legal weed has expanded his state’s economy.
Lawmakers in the state of Oregon are taking yet another novel approach to protecting legal cannabis use in their state. Oregon’s tactic doesn’t aim to protect growers or businesses so much as consumers.
The plan is to prevent marijuana user data from falling into the hands of federal drug enforcement agencies. The law protects cannabis users from having their identities or cannabis-purchasing habits sucked up by federal surveillance.
Most cannabis buyers do not know that their identifying information is collected without their consent. Information from customers’ IDs ends up in databases. In the event of a crackdown, lack of privacy is disturbing. The law protecting that data passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Washington is one of four states which signed onto the letter asking the Trump administration to abandon any idea of a federal crackdown on weed-legal states.
In the letter, available to the public here, Governor Jay Inslee argues that legal weed should be subject t0 regulation, not prohibition. The letter targets “inequitable incarceration,” referencing the extreme racial disparity.
Addressed to Sessions and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, it acknowledges how they had once been against legalization. However, they realized that a federal crackdown on weed-legal states would just divert existing marijuana products into the black market.