Statement from Inslee regarding reports that USDOJ will rescind Cole Memo

January 4, 2018

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Gov. Jay Inslee issued the following statement today upon news that the U.S. Department of Justice would announce its decision to rescind the Cole Memorandum that has allowed Washington and other states to implement common-sense marijuana laws:

“If news reports are accurate, today’s forthcoming announcement from Attorney General Sessions is the wrong direction for our state. It is also disrespects Washington voters who have chosen a different path for our state. I am especially frustrated that this announcement comes after Sessions has refused offers from Attorney General Ferguson and myself to meet with him to discuss these policies in person, after he has disregarded the input that we and other state leaders have provided to his department.

“In Washington state we have put in place a system in place that adheres to what we pledged to the people of Washington and the federal government; it’s well regulated, keeps criminal elements out, keeps pot out of the hands of kids and tracks it all carefully enough to clamp down on cross-border leakage. We are going to keep doing that and overseeing the well-regulated market that Washington voters approved.

“Make no mistake: As we have told the Department of Justice ever since I-502 was passed in 2012, we will vigorously defend our state’s laws against undue federal infringement.”

Last year Inslee and Ferguson wrote to Attorney General Sessions urging him to respect Washington state’s marijuana laws, and offering to meet with him to discuss federal treatment of marijuana laws. Inslee also joined with the governors of Alaska, Colorado in Oregon in sending another letter to Sessions and U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin telling them to retain the Cole Memo and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) guidance that respects state marijuana systems.

July 2017 letter from Attorney General Sessions responding to Gov. Inslee and state Attorney General Ferguson

April 2017 letter from the governors of Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska to AG Sessions

February 2017 letter from Gov. Inslee and state Attorney General Ferguson to AG Sessions

Media Contact 

Tara Lee
Governor Inslee’s Communications Office
360.902.4136