Congressional Cannabis Caucus urges feds to leave recreational states alone

Emily Gray Brosious

February 24, 2017: 12:37 PM CT

cannaReps. Jared Polis [left] (CO-02), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Don Young (AK-At Large) and Dana Rohrabacher [right] (CA-48) announce the formation of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus on Thursday, Feb. 16 at the U.S. Capitol in the District of Columbia. (Screen grab: Earl Blumenauer/YouTube)


Lawmakers push back against potential federal crackdown on recreational marijuana states.


Responding Thursday to Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s statements that the Justice Department may escalate federal enforcement in states that have legalized recreational marijuana, the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus urged the Trump administration not to take a regressive stance against state-legal recreational marijuana.

“We hope today’s comments do not reflect the views of the President and his administration,”  co-chairs Reps. Don Young (AK-At Large), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48) and Jared Polis (CO-02) said in a press release.

Last week, Young, Blumenauer, Rohrabacher and Polis, who each represent states where voters have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use, announced the formation of the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

The co-chairs say they “stand ready” to educate the Trump administration about the experiences of states that have legalized marijuana, as well as “the need for more sensible marijuana policies.”

“Last November, eight more states passed measures to increase access to state-legal cannabis, and today more than 300 million Americans live in states with access to adult-use marijuana or some form of medical cannabis,” they said. “Together, we will continue to work in a bipartisan manner to reform our failed marijuana policies and provide a voice for Americans who have overwhelmingly voted for a more sensible drug policy.”

To date, eight states and the District of Columbia have voted to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use, and 28 states and D.C. have legalized medical cannabis for qualifying patients. About 95 percent of Americans live in states or territories that allow some form of medical cannabis access, and nearly a fifth of all Americans now live in states where adults can legally access recreational marijuana, according to Polis’ press release.

Public support for recreational legalization reached a 47-year high in 2016, according to Gallup polling, which found 60 percent of Americans now believe marijuana should be legalized for adult recreational use.

On the campaign trail, President Trump repeatedly said marijuana policy should be left to the states, and he’s also come out strongly in favor of states’ rights on a number of other issues. But Spicer’s comments on Thursday cast doubt as to whether or not the Trump administration intends to uphold Obama-era Justice Department directives that protected state-legal marijuana activities from federal enforcement.

“Now either the President is flip-flopping or his staff is, once again, speaking out of turn, either way these comments leave doubt and uncertainty for the marijuana industry, stifling job growth in my state,” Polis said in a release. “The public has spoken on recreational marijuana, we’ve seen it work in Colorado, and now is the time to lift the federal prohibition.”


Watch: Cannabis Caucus Launch


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