States Fight Back: California Considers Becoming a Marijuana Sanctuary State, Four Govs Send Letter Asking For Sessions to Stay Out of State Laws

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Four Governors have written to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to leave state marijuana laws alone. California lawmakers are considering a bill that would create a sanctuary state for marijuana.

John Oliver is not the only one calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stay out of state marijuana laws. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D), and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) have written a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting that he uphold the Cole Memo, a document that calls for federal authorities to defer to state marijuana laws.

“Overhauling the Cole Memo is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences,” the governors wrote in the letter. “Changes that hurt the regulated market would divert existing marijuana product into the black market and increase dangerous activity in both our states and our neighboring states.”


Governor Hickenlooper planned to follow up with Sessions soon.

“I took an oath to support the constitution of Colorado,” Hickenlooper told The Hill. “I want to make sure that we have a discussion about it. I’ll come back, we’ll try to set a meeting up.”

Thanks to his successful lawsuit that blocked Trump’s travel ban, Washington state Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, has become recognized nationally as someone capable of pushing back against the White House. This could be good news for marijuana advocates. Ferguson has also indicated a willingness to challenge the Trump Administration on marijuana enforcement as well.

“In an imperfect system, the Cole Memo has worked. States that have legalized marijuana I think have worked hard to adhere to the Cole Memo,” Ferguson said. “States like Washington have legal tools to resist [a federal crackdown], in the same way we have legal tools to resist the executive travel ban.”

It has been a busy week for states looking to prevent on a potential federal crackdown. With its big cities already becoming a sanctuary for undocumented individuals, California is now considering a bill that would make the Golden State a sanctuary for marijuana laws.

If Assembly Bill 1578 is passed, police in California would be barred from working with federal authorities to prosecute growers and dispensaries that are operating legally under state law.

Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D) is the bill’s lead sponsor. He said the AB 1578 would protect “one of the greatest businesses” in California according to Huffington Post.

The governor’s letter and Jones-Sawyer’s bill are aiming to calm some of the anxiety caused by Jeff Sessions’ recent comments. Many are fearful of the potential legal, economic, and health issues that could arise from a federal crackdown on marijuana.