Washington state Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell asked the Trump administration Thursday to allow states to tax and sell recreational marijuana.
The senators, along with nine others, wrote a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, reminding him that President Donald Trump said on the campaign trail that the issue of legalization should be left up to states.
Washington is one of eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana. The state’s Democratic governor, Jay Inslee, has vowed to go to court if necessary to fight any plans by the Trump administration to shut down the state operations.
In their letter, the senators said states should be allowed to enforce their policies in “thoughtful, sensible” ways without federal interference, following the lead of former President Barack Obama’s Justice Department.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska also signed the letter, along with eight other Democrats: Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Catherine Cortez Mastro of Nevada, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado.
Marijuana revenues nearly doubled in Washington state in 2016 compared with the previous year, hitting $256 million. Inslee said they could exceed $700 million within two years.
Fears of a pending crackdown are growing after Sessions said Tuesday that he was “dubious about marijuana.”
“States, you know, can pass whatever laws they choose, but I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store,” he said in a speech at the winter meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General. “We’ll have to work our way through that.”
Sessions made his remarks only days after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that the Department of Justice would use the federal law banning marijuana to crack down on recreational pot sales while allowing states to regulate the drug for medical use.
“I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement,” Spicer said.