Sen. Bennet Urges Jeff Sessions to Rescind Overreaching Marijuana Guidance

By Samantha Slater

On Friday, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting that he rescind the Department of Justice’s January 4, 2018 guidance regarding marijuana enforcement. Bennet offered to meet with Attorney General Sessions in person to discuss the matter further.

“The Justice Department’s decision to rescind the Cole Memorandum completely disregards the steps the state of Colorado has taken to regulate legal marijuana dispensaries and retail stores,” Bennet wrote. “It also creates uncertainty and confusion for businesses, patients, and customers who are following the law.”

In the letter, Bennet outlined how the Department of Justice’s failure to put forth a coherent strategy is undermining the original purpose of the Cole Memorandum to minimize federal intervention.

“Our state, as well as the 28 other states, will remain obligated to carry out the will of the people,” Bennet wrote. “However, we must now do so in the context of nebulous federal interaction…We need a coherent strategy from the Department of Justice as to how this discretion will be administered. The failure to do so will invite chaos, which will do more to harm public safety than to restrict legal marijuana.”

Bennet also raised the issue of banking services for marijuana businesses. Earlier this year, Bennet introduced legislation that would ensure legal cannabis businesses can access banking services, decreasing safety risks for the business and surrounding communities.

“I also fear that your decision may make it more difficult for marijuana businesses to obtain merchant services from banks and credit unions, forcing them to conduct more business in cash,” Bennet wrote. “This may raise significant public safety issues and make it harder to ensure that businesses are complying with state laws and regulations—which is the exact opposite intended effect of the 2018 Guidance.”

Bennet concluded by writing that the 2018 Guidance is inconsistent with President Trump’s assessment that marijuana regulation be left to the states and offering to meet with Attorney General Sessions in person to discuss the matter further.

A copy of the letter is available here.

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