Attorney General Jeff Sessions walked back an Obama-era policy that tacitly allowed states to legalize marijuana despite a federal ban, and Washington state is having none of it.
Sessions announced Thursday that he was rescinding the Cole Memo, which put boundaries on marijuana-related issues that U.S. attorneys would prosecute. The announcement prompted immediate reactions by politicians and civil servants from states that have legalized the drug, including Washington and Colorado.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes, who is known for his advocacy around marijuana legalization, called a press conference that day to reassure Seattleites that the city and its police force would not be coming after legal marijuana sales and that people’s ability to light up would be protected.
It’s more than just a stance to make themselves look good. Washington, a state with a severely regressive taxation system, levies a 37 percent excise tax on legal marijuana sales. For comparison, Massachusetts, one of the other eight states where marijuana is legal for recreational use, has capped the maximum taxation on weed at 20 percent.
In 2017, Washington state pulled in just shy of $315 million in revenue from marijuana excise taxes, according to the Liquor and Cannabis Board.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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