In an attempt to put the Justice Department in its place, Washington state officials have fired off a response to a letter that U.S. Attorney General Sessions sent them weeks ago, which cited concerns for their inability to properly run a legal marijuana market.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson wrote to Sessions, earlier this week, saying his gripes over the state’s marijuana laws “are outdated, incorrect, or based on incomplete information,” according to a report from SeattlePI.
“Your letter repeatedly fails to distinguish between marijuana activity that is legal and illegal under state law,” Inslee and Ferguson wrote. “Instead, it conflates the two in a manner that implies that state-legal marijuana activity is responsible for harms actually caused by illegal marijuana activity.”
Ever since Sessions took over as head of the Justice Department, he has been taking baby steps toward inciting a raucous war between the federal government and the legal marijuana movement.
In his latest action, the attorney general sent letters to Colorado, Oregon and Washington, which suggested that none of them were adhering the language of an Obama-era memo that has given states the freedom to legalize weed with minimal federal interference.
But in the case of Washington, state officials say the majority of the problems Sessions has with their marijuana policy involve situations that have either already been remedied or have absolutely nothing to do with the legal sector.
In their response, Inslee and Ferguson directly addressed Session’s claims, which are based on the March 2016 Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area report, suggesting that Washington marijuana is being illegal distributed in 43 other states.
"Your letter fails to clearly acknowledge that this (43 state) statistic covers several years before our recreational sales even began, and reveals nothing about whether the sources of the marijuana were legal or illegal," the letter reads.
The letter goes on to acknowledge that Washington did, in fact, have some trouble, at first, with controlling its medical marijuana market, but that sector was “realigned… to bring it within the state’s far more stringent recreational system.”
In the end, the letter encourages Sessions to provide Washington with detailed information on how the federal government plans to deal with various facets of legal marijuana.
“We encourage you to keep in mind why we are having this conversation,” the letter concludes. “State and federal prohibition of marijuana failed to prevent its widespread use, which was generating huge profits for violent criminal organizations.”
“The people of Washington State chose by popular vote to try a different path. Under Washington’s system, responsible adults are allowed access to a highly regulated product that returns substantial tax revenues to the government even as it displaces illegal activity.”