Bennet Asks DOJ to Uphold Existing State Marijuana Laws

Letter Asks Department of Justice to Consult with State and Local Officials

Washington, DC - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) joined a bipartisan group of Senators requesting the Department of Justice (DOJ) to uphold its existing enforcement policy regarding states with voter-approved marijuana laws.

The letter was prompted by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's remarks during his briefing on February 23rd, suggesting "greater enforcement" against any state that has legalized use of the drug.

"The White House should respect Colorado's constitution and our efforts to regulate medical and recreational marijuana," Bennet said. "Instead of making blanket statements about the industry, the Department of Justice should meet with state and local leaders, public health officials, and business owners to learn more about how the market functions in Colorado."

In the letter, the senators wrote: "It is essential that states that have implemented any type of practical, effective marijuana policy receive immediate assurance from the DOJ that it will respect the ability of states to enforce thoughtful, sensible drug policies in ways that do not threaten the public's health and safety. This ensures that state infrastructure, including tax revenue, small businesses, and jobs, can be protected; DOJ resources can be used most effectively; and most importantly, that marijuana can be properly regulated to improve public health and safety."

Guidance issued by the DOJ in 2013, known as the "Cole Memorandum," provides a clear outline of the interaction of state and federal laws regarding marijuana use. According to the memorandum, enforcement of marijuana-related activities should be addressed primarily by state regulatory bodies and local law enforcement in states with "strong and effective regulatory systems" already in place.

To date, eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing for the recreational use of marijuana, 28 states have medical marijuana laws, and 21 states have decriminalized the use of marijuana.

Click HERE to read the letter in its entirety.