JUNEAU – Monday, Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) introduced a Sense of the Senate denouncing Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to rescind what is known as the “Cole memo” limiting the conditions of prosecution on state-licensed cannabis businesses. The Senate Majority made a motion to table the Sense of the Senate until March 7.
“It is important that we stand up for states’ rights, for Alaska voters, and for promising new Alaska industries, “said Sen. Gardner. “I was disappointed the Federal Administration felt it necessary to return to an archaic, expensive, and failed marijuana enforcement policy. I am equally disappointed that the Alaska Senate Majority is reluctant to stand up for Alaskans and put this to a vote today.”
The Cole memo, issued in 2013, directed federal prosecutors and law enforcement to focus their priorities on the prevention of distribution of marijuana to minors, sales to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels, use of firearms in the distribution of marijuana, and driving under the influence. In 2009, U.S. Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden wrote a memo with similar guidelines for federal prosecutors in states that legalized marijuana for medical purposes.
“I fully hope Senate Leadership will stand by their word and vote on the Sense of the Senate before our federal delegation arrives in Juneau,” said Senator Tom Begich (D-Anchorage). “U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump Administration are infringing on Alaska’s right to govern ourselves as Alaska voters decided.”
U.S. Attorneys can now resume prosecutions in states that have legalized marijuana. Alaska is among nine states that have legalized Marijuana for recreational purposes. Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.