On January 4, 2018, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum to federal prosecutors rescinding prior policies that had, in essence, established a hands-off policy from federal law enforcement towards marijuana possession in States that had adopted medical marijuana programs and/or legalized adult recreational possession laws.
The memorandum is available here:
Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum responded to the Sessions memo, stating:
““Last year in Oregon, we collected over $60 million in state taxes as a result of our now legal marijuana industry. At the Oregon Department of Justice we will continue to make sure Oregon’s marijuana industry thrives under our carefully considered state regulatory requirements. The United States Attorney General Jeff Session’s decision today to rescind the Cole Memo, which has provided helpful guidance over the past five years to Oregon and other states that have legalized marijuana, is yet another example of this administration’s overreach. I value my working relationship with Oregon U.S. Attorney-nominee Bill Williams and I look forward to working with his office. States up and down the West Coast, and beyond, have spoken. This is an industry that Oregonians have chosen—and one I will do everything within my legal authority to protect.”
United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, Billy Williams, issued the following statement:
“As noted by Attorney General Sessions, today’s memo on marijuana enforcement directs all U.S. Attorneys to use the reasoned exercise of discretion when pursuing prosecutions related to marijuana crimes. We will continue working with our federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners to pursue shared public safety objectives, with an emphasis on stemming the overproduction of marijuana and the diversion of marijuana out of state, dismantling criminal organizations and thwarting violent crime in our communities.”
Oregon Governor Kate Brown stated:
“Reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will roll back federal marijuana policy are deeply concerning and disruptive to our state’s economy. 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.
“States are the laboratories of democracy, where progressive policies are developed and implemented for the benefit of their people. 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.
“My staff and state agencies are working to evaluate reports of the Attorney General’s decision and will fight to continue Oregon’s commitment to a safe and prosperous recreational marijuana market.”