The Governors from Alaska, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon have sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin asking for the federal government to allow for the continuation of recreational cannabis industries in their respective states. The letter stated, “As Governors, we have committed to implementing the will of our citizens and have worked cooperatively with our legislatures to establish robust regulatory structures that prioritize public health and public safety, reduce inequitable incarceration and expand our economies.” The Governors’ letter reaffirms their strong stance the importance of the marijuana industries in their state, both as an act of upholding the will of their citizens, as well as providing their states with economic opportunity through additional tax revenue and job creation.
Though the Trump Administration has not made any concrete moves against the cannabis industry, there is a constant air of unease by people in the industry who worry about the administration’s feelings towards cannabis. Trump himself has made it clear he sees the importance of medical marijuana, but has not looked too kindly upon recreational markets. Sessions, on the other hand, is a staunch anti-marijuana advocate, and his position as Attorney General has made many worry that he may attempt to revoke the Cole memos, which allow cannabis industries to continue unimpeded by the DEA in states where they have been legalized.
Sean Spicer, however, did hint to a possible crack down on legal recreational marijuana industries, which caused rising concern about the future of the industry. One of the few components that is believed to be protecting the cannabis industry is the Trump Administration’s strong commitment to the importance of states rights, which has shielded the industry from any federal action, in either direction, thus far. The Governors from Alaska, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, however, want to get ahead of any possible national legislation.
In the letter, the Governors highlighted the importance of the Cole Memos for allowing legal marijuana systems to be set up in states with a strong focus on public health and safety. They also warned of a possible increase in crime if the legal industries are disbanded and replaced by illegal vendors in the black market. The Governors included Treasury Secretary Mnuchin in the letter with the hope of providing cannabis companies access to the banking system. The Governors called for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which provides guidance to banks on such issues, to request that banks and investors provide services to companies in the marijuana industry in order to further grow the success of the flourishing industry.
The Governors even opened up about their understanding of the trepidation the administration may have in implementing new changes in regards to cannabis. All of the Governors admitted to being skeptical about marijuana legalization when it first occurred in their own states, but as Governors it is their duty to implement the will of their citizens. This echoes the words of Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who said he was willing to go head to head with the Trump Administration on the issue of cannabis, much like he did with the recent immigration order. Ferguson said that states were the labs of democracy and this now successful multi-state experiment should be embraced by the national government. He also made it clear that it would be very troubling if legal Washington grow operations were raided by the DEA.
The tone of the Governors’ letter was very non-confrontational and focused on creating a relationship with the Trump Administration regarding the issue of cannabis. The goal of the Governors was to engage in a conversation with the government and to open up a platform for future discussion. The Governors wrote, "We look forward to working with you and your administration. We stand ready to have further discussion on how these important federal policies work in our states.” The letter has been widely praised by marijuana advocates for its straightforward but non-aggressive tone, which will hopefully serve to open up a dialogue about cannabis that will allow for input from the Governors in the future.