Law

Anti-legalization group urges feds to “systematically shut down” cannabis industry

Jeff Sessions has more reading about marijuana regs on his desk.

Last week, governors from Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana, each sent letters to the attorney general defending their respective regulatory regimes, designed to uphold the Cole Memo. That Obama-era memo outlined law enforcement and financial oversight priorities for states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use.

On the fourth anniversary of the memo, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), a non-profit group opposed to marijuana legalization, announced it had sent a report to Sessions and other lawmakers detailing how those states have failed to live up to the responsibilities it laid out.

Based on their report, “The Cole Memo: 4 Years Later,” SAM recommends that Sessions “take measured action to successfully protect public health and safety. Limited Federal resources should used to target the big players in the marijuana industry who are circumventing DOJ guidance and state regulations.”

In a phone conference Wednesday, Kevin Sabet, President of SAM, went further, saying, “We do not want individuals prosecuted — we want the industry to be accountable. This industry – starting from the top — should be systematically shut down.”

The SAM report says that Colorado, Oregon and Washington have failed to comply with seven of the eight guidelines of the Cole Memo, which include access to minors, flow to other states, and preventing drugged driving. As a result, Sabet said, the states “are inviting a shift in enforcement as a result.”

The SAM report echoes some of Sessions’ own claims in recent letters to the governors of the four states, stating, “States ​with ​legal ​marijuana ​are ​seeing ​an ​increase ​in drugged ​driving crashes ​and youth ​marijuana ​use. ​States ​that ​have ​legalized ​marijuana ​are ​also failing ​to ​shore up ​state ​budget ​shortfalls ​with ​marijuana ​taxes, ​continuing ​to ​see ​a ​thriving ​illegal black ​market and ​are ​experiencing ​an unabated ​sales ​of ​alcohol… State ​regulatory ​frameworks ​established ​post-legalization ​have ​failed ​to ​meet ​each ​of the ​specific ​DOJ ​requirements ​on ​controlling ​recreational ​marijuana ​production, ​distribution, ​and use.”

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Also on the call was Chief John Jackson, Chief of Police at Greenwood Village, Colorado Police Department. Jackson stated that the commercialization of marijuana has made even people who voted for legalization “offended.” He said, “People see billboards, articles in newspaper, internet ads and say ‘I voted for it, but this isn’t what I voted for. This isn’t what I thought was going to happen with the dabbing and access to minors.’”

Ben Cort, a former treatment provider at Cedar drug treatment center in Colorado, agreed on the call that legalization has resulted in marijuana being “normalized” for minors. He described legalization as an experiment, but said, “Kids are not willing participants in this experiment.”

With the Cole Memo, Cort said, the federal government “promised that if any of these things happened, they were going to jump in and help out, but I haven’t seen anyone jump in to help.”

Read the SAM report by clicking here.

This story is developing and will be updated. This article was first published at TheCannabist.co.