Wednesday, August 30, 2017
New SAM report, asserting legalization states "have not fulfilled the requirements of the Cole Memo," urges federal law enforcement to target big players in marijuana industry
Smart Approaches to Marijuana, the leading public policy group advocating against most state-level marijuana reforms, has released today this new report titled "The Cole Memo: 4 Years Later: Status Report on State Compliance of Federal Marijuana Enforcement Policy." Here are parts of this SAM report's introduction and conclusion:
On August 29, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued guidelines to Federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials regarding where to focus their drug enforcement efforts in states that have passed laws legalizing the retail sales of marijuana. The so-called “Cole Memo” directs enforcement officials to focus resources, including prosecutions, “on persons and organizations whose conduct interferes with any one or more of [eight] priorities, regardless of state law.”...
According to the Department of Justice, the Federal “hands-off” approach to marijuana enforcement enumerated in the Cole Memo is contingent on its expectation that “states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health, and other law enforcement interests. A system adequate to that task must not only contain robust controls and procedures on paper, it must also be effective in practice.”
Unfortunately, since Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational sale of marijuana in 2012, evidence has emerged that regulations intended to control the sale and use of marijuana have failed to meet the promises made by advocates for legalization. For example, states with legal marijuana are seeing an increase in drugged driving crashes and youth marijuana use. States that have legalized marijuana are also failing to shore up state budget shortfalls with marijuana taxes, continuing to see a thriving illegal black market, and are experiencing an unabated sales of alcohol, despite campaign promises from advocates promising that marijuana would be used as a “safer” alternative instead.
Moreover, state regulatory frameworks established post-legalization have failed to meet each of the specific DOJ requirements on controlling recreational marijuana production, distribution, and use. While long-term studies and research on the public health and safety impacts of marijuana legalization are ongoing, this report provides a partial census of readily available information that demonstrates how Colorado, Oregon, and Washington State - the jurisdictions with the most mature regulatory markets and schemes - have not fulfilled the requirements of the Cole Memo....
Federal resources should target the big players in the marijuana industry. Individual marijuana users should not be targeted or arrested, but large-scale marijuana businesses, several of which now boast of having raised over $100 million in capital, and their financial backers, should be a priority. These large businesses are pocketing millions by flouting federal law, deceiving Americans about the risks of their products, and targeting the most vulnerable. They should not have access to banks, where their financial prowess would be expanded significantly, nor should they be able to advertise or commercialize marijuana....
These large marijuana operations, which combine the tactics of Big Tobacco with black marketeering, should form the focus of federal law enforcement, not individual users. At the same time, the federal government along with non-government partners should implement a strong, evidence-based marijuana information campaign, similar to the truth® campaign for tobacco, which alerts all Americans about the harms of marijuana and the deceitful practices of the marijuana industry.