Governor Inslee, Attorney General Ferguson Lead the Push Back Against Trump
After White House Press Secretary set off a firestorm on Thursday by saying states should expect “greater enforcement” of federal laws against marijuana, government officials and activists in green states including Washington agree for once: They’re both going to fight back.
“We will resist any efforts to thwart the will of the voters in Washington,” Attorney General Ferguson said on Thursday.Ferguson also led the states in challenging Trump’s executive order on immigration. He noted he and Democratic Governor Jay Inslee were also prepared to defend the state’s legal cannabis system against any efforts by the Obama Administration to shut it down.
“The message hasn’t changed, but the audience is a little bit different,” Ferguson said of the change in administrations. He said he was “deeply disappointed” to hear White House comments regarding marijuana legalization in states like Washington.
Ferguson and Inslee last week sent a letter to new Attorney General Jeff Sessions to request a meeting on the topic. Sessions openly declared in a Congressional hearing last year that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Back in the 1980s, he got in hot water for allegedly saying that he was “OK with the Ku Klux Klan until I found out they smoked marijuana.”
“I will also be very clear with AG Sessions that I will defend the will of Washington voters,” Ferguson said in his Thursday statement. “My office will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that the federal government does not undermine Washington’s successful, unified system for regulating recreational and medical marijuana.”
In the letter to Sessions, Ferguson and Inslee wrote:
“I can’t imagine the federal government using limited resources to try to bring down a new, regulated system that has worked so well,” said state Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland), reports the Associated Press. “Prohibition was an unmitigated failure. The war on drugs is already winding down, and this administration will try to ramp it up again at its own peril.”
“Our state’s efforts to regulate the sale of marijuana are succeeding. A few years ago, the illegal trafficking of marijuana lined the pockets of criminals everywhere. Now, in our state, illegal trafficking activity is being displaced by a closely regulated marijuana industry that pays hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. This frees up significant law enforcement resources to protect our communities in other, more pressing ways.”
The Washington CannaBusiness Association is committed to complying with state laws which ensure “safe communities and a successful marketplace,” said spokesman Aaron Pickus.
“We recognize that not everyone is convinced that cannabis should be legal,” Pickus said. “We look forward to continuing our state’s leadership as an example of how licensed, regulated cannabis businesses are responsible members of Washington’s business community that bring value to state and local economies.”“There’s a big difference between [medical] and recreational marijuana,” Spicer had said on Thursday, reports Michael Buckner at KING 5. “There’s still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.”
“I would say continue what you are doing, and we will wait and see,” said attorney Daniel Shortt, with the firm Harris Bricken, which represents clients licensed to sell marijuana in Washington state. “I think the next step is to watch the Department of Justice.”
Washington pot shops sell an average of $4.4 million worth of marijuana per day. That’s approaching $1 billion in sales so far for the fiscal year which began last July. About $184 million of that is state tax revenue.
Other Green States Aren’t Happy, EitherMeanwhile, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) called on the federal government to “respect the decisions of Oregon voters,” reports Jeremy Berke at Business Insider. Recreational marijuana was legalized in Oregon in 2014.
“Instead, they Trump Administration is threatening states’ rights, including the rights of one in five Americans who live in a state where marijuana in legal, Sen. Wyden said. “I will fight hard against ridiculous federal government intrusions into our state.Nevada’s Senate majority leader, Aaron D. Ford, a Democrat, called on Nevada’s GOP Attorney General to “vigorously defend” the state’s new recreational marijuana legalization laws from “federal overreach.”
“Not only did voters overwhelmingly vote to approve the legalization of recreational marijuana, the Governor’s proposed education budget depends on tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales,” Ford said. “Any action by the Trump administration would be an insult to Nevada voters and would pick the pockets of Nevada’s students.”
Washington and Colorado in 2012 were the very first states to legalize recreational marijuana sales. They’ve since been joined by six others and D.C.