In a new attempt to circumvent Attorney General Jeff Sessions crusade against states with legal pot, a rare bipartisan bill has been offered in the House to keep him in check.
Reps. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) introduced the “Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act,” which would essentially codify the protections that were outlined in the now-rescinded Obama-era Cole memo that relaxed enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where medical and/or recreational pot is legal.
Sessions rescinded that memo last month as he continues to attack legal pot, rather than prescription pain killers, to battle the country's current opioid epidemic. With the Cole memo gone, Sessions is expected to ask federal prosecutors to begin pursuing cases against businesses that sell weed, as well as their customers.
Correa, who represents the largest state market for legal pot, explained that federal intervention would be a huge blow to his state's economy.
“To date, eight states have legalized recreational cannabis, and twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia, representing more than half of the American population, have enacted legislation to permit the use of cannabis. Attorney General Sessions’ decision to rescind the ‘Cole Memo’ created great uncertainty for these states and legal cannabis businesses, and put citizens in jeopardy for following their state laws. In my state of California, voters want legal cannabis. It boosts our economy and is a strong medical tool. By 2020, revenues from cannabis sales taxes could reach $1 billion annually for California. This bill will protect California and other states from federal overreach and ensure the will of the American voter is respected.” – Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.)
Gaetz, meanwhile, focused on the benefit legal pot provides to law enforcement departments who don't have to waste resources enforcing federal regulation on a plant.
“When Federal law conflicts with state laws and the will of the American people, it’s time to change the laws. Rep. Correa’s Sensible Enforcement of Cannabis Act does just that, codifying the provisions of the “Cole Memo” into federal law. This bill is a tremendous step forward. It will help the men and women of law enforcement focus on fighting serious crime and will protect medical marijuana patients nationwide. I am proud to support this legislation, and hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will see its value and bring it to a vote soon.” – Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)