Washington Leaders Vow To Uphold Legal Marijuana Against Federal Action

Marijuana plant - KUOW
Legal marijuana sales exceeded $1.3 billion in Washington state in fiscal year 2017. CREDIT: KUOW/BOND HUBERMAN

Washington state officials are calling the Trump administration’s decision to scrap marijuana guidelines “backwards” and “disappointing.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded federal guidelines this week (namely the 2013 “Cole memo” and 2009 “Ogden memo”) that paved the way for medical and recreational marijuana markets.

Washington voters approved the growth and sales of recreational marijuana in a 2012 initiative. Governor Jay Inslee said there will be no changes to marijuana policy in the state.

Inslee says the real drug epidemic Washington and other states are facing is over opioid abuse and deaths.

“We wish they would be more concerned about an epidemic that is eating our country alive, rather than chasing the past on marijuana,” Inslee said.

Inslee spoke at an Associated Press legislative forum Thursday, alongside state Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Ferguson says it’s unclear what Sessions intends to do about marijuana, since his announcement did not include any mention of future regulations. But Ferguson says his office is dedicated to defending the will of Washington’s voters on marijuana.

“We are very, very well positioned from a legal standpoint,” Ferguson said. “Our legal arguments have been crafted, we are prepared, we’re not messing around.”

He said U.S. Department of Justice officials have refused to meet with the state about pot regulations.

Marijuana is a big industry in Washington, grossing nearly $1.3 billion in legal sales in 2017, according to the state Liquor and Cannabis Board. The state projects nearly $740 million in tax revenue from legal cannabis over the next two years.

 Copyright 2017 KUOW

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