Dead Letters

Sessions' correspondence to marijuana states is full of smoke and mirror

While certain federal administration officials take to Twitter to air their grievances, those stuck in last century use more traditional means for their loosely-supported rants.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent letters to governors of states with legal recreational marijuana in response to an April 3 letter from the governors of Alaska, Washington and Oregon urging him to uphold Obama-era pot policy.

However, the points raised in Sessions' letter may not be as watertight as he thinks.

The letters' main target was an increase in illegal trafficking following the legalization policy of northwestern states.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson took issue with Sessions' facts, responding that they were based on outdated information from the Northwest High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

If the information released by the Northwest HIDTA is anything like the reports from the Rocky Mountain HIDTA covering Colorado, then one could reasonably suspect that the statistics aren't as reliable as anti-marijuana crusaders would like people to believe.

Anti-legalization efforts in Arizona often cited the Rocky Mountain HIDTA report to discourage legalization in Arizona. We've spent a lot of time going over that data and demonstrating how it's used to mislead the public.

That's exactly what Inslee and Ferguson contest in Sessions' letter.

"Unfortunately he is referring to incomplete and unreliable data that does not provide the most accurate snapshot of our efforts since the marketplace opened in 2014," Inslee wrote in an Aug. 4 statement.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown was bit more receptive to Sessions' claims, already well aware that the state remains a major exporter of black market marijuana. However, much like the situation in California's surplus, this is a problem that could be solved with removing marijuana from the list of Schedule I substances.

Many of the issues with the black market stem from federal law maintaining marijuana as illegal for transport across state lines. It's reminiscent of the old-school DARE bluff that bad things will happen to you if you use marijuana: The same people saying it's a problem that marijuana is crossing state borders are the same people who can make it legal to cross state borders.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper received a late-July letter from Sessions railing against the same interstate distribution. Again, Sessions cited Rocky Mountain HIDTA data from September 2016.

Hickenlooper challenged Sessions' claims with his own report in regards to youth use of marijuana, demonstrating a decline in opposition to Sessions' claims that it's on the rise.

Whether Alaska Governor Bill Walker received a similar letter is still unclear.

Despite Sessions' potentially misguided claims, all state administrations have expressed interest in working with the Justice Department to address the concerns.

The letters in conjunction with Sessions' Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety may signal the first steps in the federal crackdown on the burgeoning marijuana industry. That's something states are interested in holding off on for as long as possible.

In other news, don't forget to check out Downtown Dispensary's new location that opened up this week on Kolb Road and 22nd Street. "D2" features a more open environment than its Sixth Street sister location with large windows and a 3,000-square-foot layout.

Customers can select their products from a digital menu at one of the four customer stations in the shop with a "deli-style dispensing system" similar to the original location.

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