Bipartisan Bill Introduced In House Would Replace Cole Memo, Protect States

Feb 19, 2018

A bipartisan bill meant to replace the protections provided by the now-defunct "Cole memo" has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, The Hill reports. The bill, entitled the "Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act" was introduced jointly by Representatives Lou Correa (D-CA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL).

Correa claims that the Attorney General Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole Memo created confusion and uncertainty for states with cannabis programs and put citizens who use marijuana in jeopardy.

If passed, the bill would replace the Obama-era memo in protecting states’ legal cannabis programs from interference by Federal law enforcement agencies, helping to create a more stable cannabis industry. It would also protect individuals from prosecution for both legal medical and recreational marijuana use.

Good governance needed

“To date, eight states have legalized recreational cannabis, and twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia, representing more than half of the American population, have enacted legislation to permit the use of cannabis," Correa said in a statement accompanying the bill’s introduction.

Gaetz’s statement said that The "Cole memo" was good policy, but, because it was not an act of Congress, it was “bad governance.”

“We are a nation of laws, not department-wide memos. We should not tell prosecutors to ‘pick and choose’ what laws to uphold,” he said. “When federal law conflicts with state laws and the will of the American people, it’s time to change the laws.”

“This bill will protect California and other states from federal overreach and ensure the will of the American voter is respected,” Gaetz’s said in his statement.

By 2020, revenues from cannabis sales taxes could reach $1 billion annually for Correa’s home state of California.

NORML encourages support of citizen activists

Political activist group NORML, in a blog post on their website, lauded the action calling it “the most essential component in creating a stable business environment.”

“Essentially, the Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act would give peace of mind to lawmakers, regulators, 149,000 workers, and the millions of patients and consumers who are dependent on the normalization of lawful marijuana markets,” the post read.

NORML provided this link for anyone who would like to send a message to their state representatives to encourage them to support "The Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act."

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