WASHINGTON — Eleven senators sent a letter Thursday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking him not to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized pot.
“It is essential that states that have implemented any type of practical, effective marijuana policy receive immediate assurance from the [Department of Justice] 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," the senators wrote.
The letter was signed by: Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Ed Markey, D-Mass.; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; and Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
Sessions has suggested that he might order a federal crackdown against marijuana businesses that are legal under state law.
Pot is one of the unique issues where Democrats tend to favor state rights while Republicans support federal law. However, Murkowski, a Republican, represents one of the eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana use.
The senators pointed to the 2013 “Cole Memorandum,” which provided guidance on the issue, leaving most marijuana enforcement up to state regulators.
"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,” the letter said.
The letter comes as Sessions is facing increasing pressure from Democrats to step down after it was discovered that he did not disclose meetings with a Russian ambassador during his nomination hearing.