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The governors of marijuana supporting states, such as Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon have sent a combined letter to the Attorney General of the United States, Jeff Sessions and the Secretary of the United States Treasury, Steve Mnuchin. They have used this letter to advise them to support the cannabis legalization reforms that started in the country during the Obama administration.
These governors want to ensure that the federal government will pursue policies that support the legalization of cannabis, which has already occurred in these states. The letter asks these important government officials to follow the Cole Memo of 2013, which the Justice Department issued for supporting legal use of cannabis in Washington and Colorado. They have also asked the Treasury Department to follow their Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) framework that allows institutions to work with companies that sell legalized marijuana.
The governors stressed that the Cole Memo is perfect and changing it will produce ill consequences in these states. They further notified that the changes that are made in the regulatory framework have the ability to destroy the existing marijuana products that are available in these states. This empowers the black market traders and increases illegal activities across the country.
The letter further describes that the FinCEN guiding framework has been essential in creating financial support for marijuana-related businesses and it will be difficult to support the current growth, if this initiative is not continued and in fact, expanded in the future. The failure to continue FinCEN will force businesses to use cash and this will pose a financial risk and make the job of the weed regulators a lot more difficult.
The governors further stated the fact that already over 60% of the population supports the legalization of marijuana and this implies that the country needs to support the efforts to create legal frameworks.
The Cole Memorandum and the FinCEN guidance therefore, work as two important tools that are essential for collaboration between the marijuana industry and the government authorities.
Bill Walker (Alaska), Jay Inslee (Washington), Kate Brown (Oregon) and John Hickenlooper (Colorado) are the signees of this letter, and are the governors of their respective states. They have requested Mnuchin and Sessions to cooperate and engage with them, before making any changes to the current regulatory mechanism for cannabis.
This letter clearly represents the desire of these states that they want to work with the new Trump administration to support the cannabis legalization and continue to regulate the marijuana industry in their states with interference from the federal authorities.
The National Cannabis Industry Association has acknowledged the approach of these governors. Their executive director, Aaron Smith, has expressed that a regulated cannabis industry is a lot better than looking at the alternate picture in which street gangs and cartels will rule the marijuana trade.
He further expressed that regulated industries generate tax revenue and create jobs in the society. The new regulations have helped remove the street sellers and created a proper mechanism for adult-use. The new administration needs to continue the previous efforts and help the states, rather than work against them to stop the legal use of marijuana.
Marijuana Industry Group leads the cannabis-related businesses in Colorado. Their representative, Kristi Kelly, expressed that the current regulatory system has been effective in identifying criminal threats and reducing their impact. The program in Colorado is properly regulated and produces high tax returns. The state and the local governments are able to enforce the regulations and this reduces the gap, which is exploited by illegal drug sellers in the state.