Ferguson: Sessions won’t meet on pot issues
OLYMPIA — The Latest on Washington state reaction to the rescinding by the Trump administration of policy by president Barack Obama’s Justice Department generally barred federal law enforcement officials from interfering with marijuana sales in states where the drug is legal (all times local):
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson says it’s frustrating that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions won’t meet with state officials to discuss marijuana laws.
Sessions on Thursday rescinded an Obama directive on marijuana and left it to U.S. attorneys where pot is legal to decide whether to aggressively enforce federal marijuana law.
Ferguson said Sessions’ refusal to meet with him and others “is maddening.”
“This is a big, big issue,” he said. “In grappling with big issues it helps to actually have a conversation. The attorney general will not meet with legislative leaders, he will not meet with the governor, he will not meet with me.”
Ferguson also said the medical marijuana system could be in peril because of the Trump administration move. More than two dozen states have legalized pot for medicinal use, and he finds that “especially troubling.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says there will be no change to marijuana policy despite a Trump administration move that could lead to a federal crackdown on sales in states that have legalized the drug.
Speaking at an Associated Press legislative forum Thursday, Inslee said “we are going to continue our operations.” He said the system set up after voters approved recreational pot sales in 2012 is working to provide a safe, regulated market.
He said it’s too early to say whether Washington state will take legal action against the Justice Department, but “we’re considering all our options.”
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session’s action would leave it to U.S. attorneys where pot is legal to decide whether to aggressively enforce federal marijuana law.
For the 2017 fiscal year, total legal pot sales in Washington state exceeded $1.3 billion, according to the state Liquor Control Board. The state collected more than $300 million in excise taxes during that time. Halfway through the current fiscal year pot sales have topped $500 million, which have generated more than $100 million in taxes.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is criticizing a Trump administration decision to rescind an Obama-era policy that paved the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in numerous states.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session’s move would leave it to U.S. attorneys where pot is legal to decide whether to aggressively enforce federal marijuana law.
Inslee, a Democrat, said Thursday that would be a mistake. Inslee says the decision also disregards Washington voters who approved the legalization of recreational pot in 2012.
Inslee says Washington will vigorously defend the state’s laws against federal infringement.
Last year, Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson wrote to Sessions urging him to respect Washington state’s marijuana laws.
Washington state Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, said Washington has come to rely on the money from marijuana taxes.
Geranios reported from Spokane.