U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been hinting at cracking down on states such as Oregon that have legalized pot in defiance of federal laws, referenced a draft report from the Oregon State Police that concluded much of Oregon’s marijuana was being diverted to other states in a letter to Governor Kate Brown. The Oregon governor and head of state police wrote response letters to Sessions defending the state’s legal marijuana industry. Brown and Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton cite incorrect data and conclusions as reasons to render the report invalid. Brown stated that new laws in Oregon will cut down on the illegal sales of marijuana and should reduce the amount of illegal weed leaving the state.
Alaska and Washington state governors also pushed back recently against the Trump administration’s efforts to regulate the marijuana industry. Alaska Governor Bill Walker wrote a letter to Sessions advocating that the Department of Justice maintain the Obama administration’s approach on enforcement. Proponents of the Obama administration’s federal regulation policy warn that changes to the Cole memorandum, which restricts federal marijuana law enforcement, would divert the states existing legal products to the black market. This could lead to more crime in states where marijuana is legal as well as neighboring states.
Sessions, however, then wrote to congressional leaders, opposing an amendment allowing the Justice Department to interfere with states’ medical marijuana using appropriated funds. Sessions, then wrote to congressional leaders opposing an amendment that prevents the Justice Department from using appropriated funds to interfere with state medical marijuana programs.However, Oregon Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer speculates that Congress is becoming more pro-marijuana, and that legalization will shrink the black market.
“The more that we go down the path of legalization, regulation, and taxation, diversion becomes less and less of a problem,” Blumenauer said.
Oregon’s medical and recreational marijuana industry has raised over $60.2 million in revenue and created over 16,000 jobs according to Brown’s staffers. Her representatives state that they will continue to work with Sessions in order “to end black market marijuana operations and to provide mutual education and support of our legal and regulated marketplace.”