Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement to withdraw from the Cole Memorandum guidance regarding enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana use and distribution, U.S. Representative Denny Heck (WA-10) released a statement that calls on Congress to act.
“Perhaps because the Trump Administration was unsuccessful in repealing the Affordable Care Act, they’ve thought up another way to harm cancer patients, chronic pain sufferers, and other law-abiding citizens by taking away common sense guidance for federal law enforcement to work with local communities who have voted to legalize adult use of recreational or medical marijuana. In fact, nearly a quarter of the U.S. population now lives in a place where adult use is legal. Voters across the country have shown they are serious about taking the right steps to regulate marijuana like alcohol,” Heck stated. “This reckless and irresponsible action from the Department of Justice will not go unanswered. To prevent this action from spiraling out of control, Congress must immediately remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances, in order the preserve the legal marijuana markets present in 37 states. It is time for the federal government to catch up with the public, and align federal and state laws in a common sense way to prevent further disruptions to this established legal market that will actually make these communities less safe.”
With eight states and Washington, D.C. now allowing for adult-use recreational marijuana and 29 states legalizing medical marijuana, Heck states that it is time to align federal and state laws – specifically as it relates to the banking crisis confronting marijuana-related businesses. U.S. Representatives Ed Perlmutter (CO-07), Heck, and Don Young (R-AK) introduced bipartisan legislation in April 2017 to allow marijuana-related businesses in states with existing regulatory structures to access the banking system. A similar companion bill in the Senate was introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Cory Gardner (D-CO). The SAFE Banking Act reduces the public safety threat that arises when small businesses are forced to operate on a cash-only basis. Last year, Travis Mason, a Marine veteran and security guard at a marijuana business in Aurora, Colorado was tragically killed during a robbery.