On Aug. 4, 2017, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson responded to a letter sent by United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions that criticized the efficacy of Washington marijuana regulations designed to prevent illegal diversion and public health issues.
Citing a report by the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Sessions had called into question that state’s ability to adhere to the Cole Memorandum, which outlined eight law enforcement priorities for states to abide by in order to prevent outside interference by federal authorities, and asked the state to respond.
Characterizing the information as “incomplete and unreliable,” Inslee stated that the report does not provide an accurate assessment of Washington marijuana regulations and that the most important regulatory hurdle Washington faces has to do with marijuana’s federal status.
“While Washington has been successful in creating a tightly regulated market place and generating needed revenue for the state, challenges do remain,” Inslee said in a statement. “Most importantly marijuana remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the federal government.”
Inslee went on to say that his staffers are currently preparing a more detailed response to Sessions’ letter.
For his part, Ferguson mostly expressed disappointment with Sessions; both for his reliance on the HIDTA report and for failing to accept Ferguson’s repeated invitation to personally discuss state and federal marijuana policy in person.
“If he does accept [my invitation], I look forward to providing him with a more complete picture of the robust regulatory program that exists in our state,” Ferguson said in a press release.
The response from Ferguson and Inslee comes on the heels of news that the marijuana task force assembled by Sessions has recommended making very few changes to the Department of Justice’s current marijuana policy.
Although Sessions is not under any obligation to follow the recommendations, it is still seen as a tacit admission by that task force that shutting down the marijuana industry is no longer politically possible.