Politicians React To Cole Memo Rescindment

Here are a series of quotes by prominent politicians

Here are a series of quotes by prominent politicians in reaction to the notice US Attorney General Jeff Sessions will rescind the Obama era Cole Memo.

All quotes contain links to the original sources for transparency.


CO Governor John Hickenlooper

Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper:

“Thirty states comprising more than two-thirds of the American people have legalized marijuana in some form. The Cole memo got it right and was foundational in guiding states’ efforts to regulate the production and distribution of marijuana. Colorado has created a comprehensive regulatory system committed to supporting the will of our voters. We constantly evaluate and seek to strengthen our approach to regulation and enforcement. Our focus will continue to be the public health and public safety of our citizens. We are expanding efforts to eliminate the black market and keep marijuana out of the hands of minors and criminals. Today’s decision does not alter the strength of our resolve in those areas, nor does it change my constitutional responsibilities.”




Senator Cory Gardner

Republican Senator Cory Gardner:

“Reports that the Justice Department will rescind their current policy on legal marijuana enforcement are extremely alarming. Before I voted to confirm Attorney General Sessions, he assured me that marijuana would not be a priority for this Administration. Today’s action directly contradicts what I was told, and I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation. In 2016, President Trump said marijuana legalization should be left up to the states and I agree.”


Senator Michael Bennet

Democratic Senator Michael Bennet:

“In rescinding the Cole memo, the Attorney General failed to listen to Colorado, and will create unnecessary chaos and confusion.”






Congresswoman Diana DeGette,


Democratic Congresswoman Diana DeGette, Chief Deputy Whip: “This step could drag us back to the days of raids on legal dispensaries and people living in fear of being jailed for using the medical marijuana they need,” DeGette said. “It could create a chilling effect on an industry that employs thousands of people in Colorado alone, where sales now top $1 billion per year.  The federal government shouldn’t take punitive steps that undermine the will of our citizens expressed at the state level.” Diana DeGette is also the author of a bipartisan bill that would ensure federal enforcement does not pre-empt state laws in regards to marijuana.




Congressman Ed Perlmutter

Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter: “Today’s decision by Attorney General Sessions rolls back the progress we’ve made to balance the laws of Colorado with the priorities of federal law enforcement. The Cole memo provided assurances to states like Colorado with marijuana use and a strict regulatory structure in place by allowing these states to proceed according to the will of their voters. While it did not relieve all uncertainty, especially for financial institutions, it was a step forward. Today’s announcement creates even greater uncertainty in the industry and shows a lack of respect for states’ rights. Congress needs to take matters into its own hands. I have been urging Congress to act on this issue since 2013, and I once again call on my colleagues to act immediately starting with passing my SAFE Banking Act which allows legitimate marijuana businesses access to banking services. Fixing the banking system will ensure a strong regulated environment for marijuana sales and continue to curtail the black market. We’ve come too far to backtrack on this issue now. It’s time to find a real solution that will keep our communities safe and respect the will of voters in the majority of states in our country.”



Congressman Mike Coffman

Republican Congressman Mike Coffman:

“Attorney General Sessions needs to read the Commerce Clause found in Article 1, Section 8 , Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution that limits the power of the federal government to regulate interstate and not intrastate commerce.  The decision that was made to legalize marijuana in Colorado was made by the voters of Colorado and only applies within the boundaries of our state.  Colorado had every right to legalize marijuana, and I will do everything I can to protect that right against the power of an overreaching federal government”




Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

Democratic Denver Mayor Michael Hancock:

“Denver and Colorado residents voted overwhelmingly to legalize recreational marijuana in our state in 2012. Since then, we have worked diligently to implement their will in a way that works for Denver, and through this work, we have become an international model for how to do it right. The decision today by Attorney General Sessions to roll back the guidance we received from the Obama Justice Department is severely disappointing and lacks good judgment. They should respect the will of our voters, and this is just another example that this administration doesn’t listen, doesn’t pay attention and just doesn’t care. I urge our congressional representatives to take immediate action to protect our voters’ will from this disastrous decision.”

County Commissioner Sal Pace

Democratic County Commissioner, Former Colorado House Leader Sal Pace:

“Any move by the DOJ to reverse cannabis legalization enacted by citizens across the country will be opposed vigorously by a bipartisan national coalition of local elected officials. A reversal of the sovereign voice of the American public is an assault on the intellect of Americans, an assault on the fundamental tenants of democracy, and an attack on the Constitutional guarantee of states’ rights.

That is why I am bringing together local elected officials across the country to demand that Congress act immediately to protect the voice of their constituents and allow states to determine their own fate. The American public has spoken loud and clear that states should have the right to determine their own fate on cannabis. The same 165,000 residents who elected me, voted for Donald Trump and voted in favor of the legalization of marijuana. The citizens from this Trump backing county do not want this economic engine shut down, sending thousands of people to the unemployment line and costing our County government millions in tax revenues.”



Senator Earl Blumenauer

Democratic Senator Earl Blumenauer:

“This is outrageous. Going against the majority of Americans—including a majority of Republican voters—who want the federal government to stay out of the way is perhaps one of the stupidest decisions the Attorney General has made. One wonders if Trump was consulted—it is Jeff Sessions after all—because this would violate his campaign promise not to interfere with state marijuana laws. It’s time for anyone who cares about this issue to mobilize and push back strongly against this decision.”





Senator Ron Wyden

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden:

“Trump promised to let states set their own marijuana policies. Now he’s breaking that promise so Jeff Sessions can pursue his extremist anti-marijuana crusade. Once again the Trump administration is doubling down on protecting states’ rights only when they believe the state is right. Opening the door to go after legal marijuana businesses ignores the will of the majority of Americans and marks yet another socially unjust and economically backward scheme from this administration. Any budget deal Congress considers in the coming days must build on current law to prevent the federal government from intruding in state-legal, voter-supported decisions.”





Governor Kate Brown

Democratic Governor Kate Brown:

“Reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will roll back federal marijuana policy are deeply concerning and disruptive to our state’s economy. Over 19,000 jobs have been created by the market Oregon worked carefully to build in good faith and in accordance with the Cole Memorandum. The federal government must keep its promise to states that relied on its guidance. States are the laboratories of democracy, where progressive policies are developed and implemented for the benefit of their people. Voters in Oregon were clear when they chose for Oregon to legalize the sale of marijuana and the federal government should not stand in the way of the will of Oregonians. My staff and state agencies are working to evaluate reports of the Attorney General’s decision and will fight to continue Oregon’s commitment to a safe and prosperous recreational marijuana market.”




Senator Kamala Harris

Democratic Senator Kamala Harris:

“Instead of going after drug cartels, and violent crime, and major traffickers, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going after recreational marijuana users. That’s not being smart on crime.”







Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom

Democratic Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom:

“Today, Jeff Sessions and the Trump Administration destructively doubled down on the failed, costly and racially discriminatory policy of marijuana criminalization, trampling on the will of California voters and a year-long bipartisan implementation process led by Governor Brown and the California Legislature. This position defies facts and logic, threatens the promise of a safe, stable, and legal regulatory framework being pursued by twenty-nine different states, and continues the Trump Administration’s cynical war on America’s largest state – and its people and progress – through immigration crackdowns, tax increases, climate policy reversals, health care repeals and now marijuana policing. It also flies in the face of the overwhelming public opinion of a vast majority of Americans, who support marijuana legalization. As it has on other issues, California will stand together to pursue all legal, legislative and political options to protect its reforms and its rights as a state. I call on our federal leaders to move quickly to protect states’ rights from the harmful effects of this ideological temper tantrum by Jeff Sessions.”



Representative Ted Lieu

Democratic Representative Ted Lieu:

“AG Jeff Sessions apparently wants to take America back to the 1920s. Prohibition didn’t work then and it will not work now. Congress needs to pass sensible laws to prevent a monumental waste of precious federal resources chasing Americans who use cannabis.”





Representative Ro Khanna


Democratic Representative Ro Khanna:

“Marijuana has become a huge industry that raises millions for schools and education programs. It’s legal in eight states. We can’t let Jeff Sessions revive the “war on drugs” which has destroyed so many lives.”




WA Attorney General Bob Ferguson

Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson:

“I am disappointed and troubled by reports that AG Sessions plans to abandon the current federal policy on marijuana – a policy that respects states’ rights and focuses federal enforcement on key, shared areas of concern. Over the past year, Sessions has demonstrated a stunning lack of knowledge about our state’s marijuana laws. If reports are accurate, Sessions is changing policy after refusing multiple requests for a meeting from Governor Jay Inslee and myself. I pledge to vigorously defend the will of the voters in Washington State.”






Democratic Governor Jay Inslee / Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson / Democratic Representative Dave Sawyer / Republican Senator Ann Rivers:


Representative Dina Titus

Democratic Representative Dina Titus:

“This latest move from Attorney General Sessions and the Trump Administration is a direct attack on the State of Nevada, sovereign tribal governments, and the rights of people in states, tribes, and territories all across the United States,” said Congresswoman Dina Titus, a founding member of the House Cannabis Caucus. “The decision to rescind the Cole and Wilkinson memos undermines Nevada’s $622 million dollar industry, threatens nearly $1 billion in new investments, and jeopardizes thousands of new jobs and more than $60 million dollars in tax revenue for the State. It also targets veterans using medical marijuana to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, and children with epilepsy, subjecting them to possible federal prosecution for seeking legal treatments for their ailments. Congress must immediately respond by passing permanent protections like the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act (H.R. 975 Rohrabacher-Blumenauer-Titus).”



Representative Matt Gaetz

Republican Representative Matt Gaetz:

“This cruel plan is repugnant to the Tenth Amendment and harms some of our most vulnerable fellow Americans. In my district and nationwide, children have been helped by medical marijuana when all other treatments have failed. Some have gone from surgeries and seizures to baseball games and homecoming dances. Veterans have ditched the ‘combat cocktail’ for soothing medical marijuana treatments and rejuvenated lives. AG Sessions’ policy would make sick children sicker. It would oppose the will of 81% of veterans, according to the American Legion. It will place the government between vulnerable people and something that could help them. This decision even flies in the face of President Trump, who expressed support for medical marijuana and state-level decision-making during his campaign, and stated on July 29, 2016 that “I think it should be up to the states.” While prosecution of bad actors is always welcome, it would be heartless to systemically use the awesome power of the federal government to punish people providing legitimate medicine.”


Mayor of Tallahassee Andrew Gillum


Democratic Mayor of Tallahassee Andrew Gillum:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions is dangerously deluded about our nation’s drug policy. This decision is not rooted in science or justice — though that’s little surprise since he has compared marijuana to heroin. While people of every walk of life smoke marijuana, the criminal penalties for doing so are far less equal. He has made his goal crystal clear: put more young people and people of color behind bars.”






Senator Lisa Murkowski

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski:

“Alaskans are waking up to media reports that the US Department of Justice is withdrawing the “Cole Memorandum,” an Obama era policy statement that the federal government will respect state marijuana laws like Alaska’s. My office can confirm we received notification from the Justice Department this morning that they intended to withdraw the “Cole Memorandum.” Over the past year I repeatedly discouraged Attorney General Sessions from taking this action and asked that he work with the states and Congress if he feels changes are necessary. Today’s announcement is disruptive to state regulatory regimes and regrettable.”




Senator Elizabeth Warren


Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren:

“States like Massachusetts have put a lot of work into implementing common-sense marijuana regulations. This reckless action by the DOJ disrupts the ability of states to enforce their own drug policies and puts our public health and safety at risk. Congress needs to take immediate action to protect state marijuana laws, and the patients that rely on them.”




MA Governor Chalie Baker


Republican Governor Chalie Baker:

“The administration believes this is the wrong decision and will review any potential impacts from any policy changes by the local U.S. Attorney’s Office”






MA Attorney General Maura Healey


Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey:

“Jeff Sessions is inexplicably directing federal law enforcement resources away from combatting the opioid epidemic to marijuana legalized by the people of Massachusetts. We are committed to helping our state and local partners implement the will of the voters.”




Senator Cory Booker

Democratic Senator Cory Booker:

“Jeff Sessions’ determination to revive the failed War on Drugs knows no bounds. History has shown that our deeply broken drug laws disproportionately harm low-income communities and communities of color and cost us billions annually in enforcement, incarceration, and wasted human potential, without making us any safer. This unjust, backwards decision is wrong for America, and will prove to be on the wrong side of history.”







Senator Bernie Sanders

Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders:

“No, Attorney General Sessions. Marijuana is not the same as heroin. No one who has seriously studied the issue believes that marijuana should be classified as a Schedule 1 drug beside killer drugs like heroin. Quite the contrary. We should allow states the right to move toward the decriminalization of marijuana, not reverse the progress that has been made in recent years.”






Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand:

“Attorney General Sessions’s reported decision is a direct attack on patients. Parents should be able to give their sick kids the medicine they need without having to fear that they will be prosecuted. Veterans should be able to come home from combat and use the medicine they need without having to fear they will be prosecuted. This is about public health, and it’s about reforming our broken criminal justice system that throws too many minorities in prison for completely nonviolent offenses. I urge my colleagues to join me in fighting this shortsighted decision and supporting my broadly bipartisan bill, the CARERS Act, to keep the federal government out of the way when doctors and patients decide that medical marijuana is the best treatment for them.”

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