by Limus Woods
As many of us know, the current U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has something against marijuana. The main question from those of us who are pro-cannabis is, “Why?” Over the years, marijuana has been medically proven to have wonderful health benefits, and the states that have made it legal right now are doing all they can in making sure that the sale of it is as clean and organized as possible. But that’s not enough for Sessions. He wrote letters to the governors of the first four states that legalized marijuana recreationally (Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska), implying that the regulatory practices are not good enough. The Attorney General is doing as others like him have tried to do over the past several decades in America… make marijuana look bad.
The letters went out in late July 2017 and, even if you don’t normally get into the politics around marijuana, I encourage you to look over these letters so that you can see just how closed-minded Sessions is. You can read the Attorney General’s letters to the four governors here.
The first couple of paragraphs are basically, with the same type of introduction in each of them. Then, each letter goes on to list negative marijuana statistics, each catered to the specific state that the letter was written to. You can read the response letters to Sessions from the four governors here.
The one Sessions wrote to Alaska Governor Bill Walker labeled marijuana as a gateway drug for young adults. Then, Session cites a list of iffy statistics, such as his claim that 19% of high school students having used marijuana in the last 30 days. He also wrote that weed in Alaska in particular is worse in his eyes, because of its high THC content.
Governor Walker responded that Alaska is consistently enforcing the prevention of illegally distributed marijuana, and he also said that “while the number of minors using marijuana in 2015 is concerning, the rate of marijuana use by Alaskan youth is lower than national averages, lower than reported alcohol use, and continues to decline.”
Sessions’ letter to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper starts out the same, claiming how he wants to work with the governor and his staff on issues like illegal distribution, but that seizures in the mail of Colorado cannabis went up 400% after the state made weed recreationally legal. Hickenlooper responded that “[w]hen abuses and unintended consequences materialize, the state has acted quickly to address any resulting harms. While our system has proven to be effective, we are constantly evaluating and seeking to strengthen our approach to regulation and enforcement.”
In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown’s letter from Sessions says that only 30% of the cannabis market in Oregon is lining up with the law, and that the state makes more money in the black market than from regulated practices. Governor Brown responded that “Oregon has already realized $60.2 million in revenue (from legalization of marijuana) and created over 16,000 jobs for Oregonians.”
Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State said that his letter from Sessions “makes a number of allegations that are outdated, incorrect, or based on incomplete information.”
What all these letters have in common is an Attorney General making unfounded and questionable claims rooted in “reefer madness” on one side and enlightened governors fighting for the only reasonable option: legalizing marijuana and ending the war on drugs on the other.
We can only hope that reason prevails.
Labak, A. 17 Aug 2017. The Sessions Letters: Read the U.S. Attorney General’s Missives to the First Four States to Legalize Marijauna. The Cannabist. Retrieved from http://www.thecannabist.co/2017/08/17/jeff-sessions-letters-marijuana-policy-alaska-colorado-oregon-washington/86246/
25 Aug 2017. The Sessions Letters: The First Four States to Legalize Marijuana Respond to Attorney General’s Missives. The Cannabist. Retrieved from http://www.thecannabist.co/2017/08/25/colorado-alaska-washington-oregon-sessions-marijuana/86753/