Governor Kate Brown has issued a statement on the reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is changing current federal marijuana policy, calling the move “deeply concerning.”
The reaction came quickly Thursday morning following reports that Sessions planned to roll back the Obama-era policy that had federal prosecutors take more of a “hands-off” approach to marijuana in states where its use was legal, as long as operations didn’t threaten other federal priorities.
Since that shift in 2013, the marijuana industry in many states, including Oregon, has flourished. In her statement, Brown made it clear one of her major concerns was how a new policy could be harmful to the state’s economy.
"Reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will roll back federal marijuana policy are deeply concerning and disruptive to our state's economy,” she said in the release. “Over 19,000 jobs have been created by the market Oregon worked carefully to build in good faith and in accordance with the Cole Memorandum. The federal government must keep its promise to states that relied on its guidance.”
The governor noted that voters in the state made it clear when they chose to legalize recreation use and said she did not believe federal officials should impede the “will of Oregonians.
"States are the laboratories of democracy, where progressive policies are developed and implemented for the benefit of their people,” Brown said in the statement. “Voters in Oregon were clear when they chose for Oregon to legalize the sale of marijuana and the federal government should not stand in the way of the will of Oregonians."
Sessions has cited reports from law enforcement in states like Colorado, where recreational marijuana use is also legal, for a number of problems, including drug traffickers who have taken advantage of lax marijuana laws to illegally grow and ship the drug across state lines.
Brown countered those claims, stating that she and Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton sent a detailed report to federal officials in August of 2017 on how the state is working to protect minors and suppressing organized and violent crime with policies aimed at the “safety and security” of Oregon’s marijuana industry.
In a release issued by the Justice Department Thursday, Sessions called the move a “return to the rule of law.”"It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. "Therefore, today's memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. Attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country."Copyright 2018 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.