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Inaccurate Misleading Information, DOJ Has No Excuse

Jeff Sessions Sent Letters of Reprimand to Legal Cannabis States that are Full of Inaccurate, Outdated and Misleading Information

Inaccurate misleading or old information is the work of either complete amateurs or people full of ill intent. While the United States government could be criticized for being disorganized and slow to act, it also sits in a place of the highest repute and professionalism.

More information is coming out about the letters Jeff Sessions sent to states reprimanding their recreational marijuana programs. The letters imply that legalized marijuana has caused a jump in safety and health problems. If the data was accurate, then there would be an obvious cause for concern. However, the letters cite data collected from before marijuana became legal in the states and some information is simply incorrect.

These revelations instead suggest that rather than the Attorney General acting on alarming information to protect the people of the United States, the letters were sent based off of nothing more than a blind prejudice towards the marijuana plant. How are we supposed to feel about material such as this being sent in an official capacity from the United States Attorney General?

The governors of Alaska and Washington are questioning the data cited by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in recent letters he sent to their states regarding the efficacy of their respective marijuana regulatory regimes.

Governors of four Western states that have legalized recreational marijuana — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — each received letters from Sessions dated July 24, responding to a joint letter the governors sent Sessions on April 3. In each letter, Sessions referred to regional and state data depicting serious public health and safety issues arising from marijuana legalization.

The Cannabist has obtained copies of each of the attorney general’s July 24 letters to those states. Late Tuesday, The Cannabist obtained copies of Alaska and Washington’s respective responses to Sessions.

Both states note that the data Sessions utilized when discussing their state’s respective regulatory regimes is out of date and incomplete.

In his July 24 letter to Alaska, Sessions cited data from the state’s 2015 State Trooper Annual Drug Report, and questioned whether the state’s regulatory framework adequately protects federal interests.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and his Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth responded in a letter dated Aug. 14 that the 2015 data cited by the attorney general could not “be fairly attributed” to the new marijuana regulatory system since legal sales in the state did not begin until 2016.

“The report simply does not speak to the success or failure of the new regulatory framework,” they wrote.

In their August 15 response to Sessions, Washington Gov. Jay Inlsee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson pushed back forcefully on the U.S. Attorney General’s citation of data from the March 2016 Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NW HIDTA) report on marijuana in the state.

“Your letter … makes a number of allegations that are outdated, incorrect, or based on incomplete information,” they wrote.

Inslee and Furguson pointed out that the HIDTA report Sessions cited was issued just four months before the state implemented legislative reforms that addressed many of the Depart of Justice’s (DOJ) concerns.

Sessions had also cited the report in stating that Washington marijuana had been diverted to 43 other states. Inslee and Ferguson argued that this finding was based on statistics covering “several years before our recreational sales began,” they wrote.

The pair also called out Sessions for repeatedly failing to “distinguish between marijuana activity that is legal and illegal.” By conflating the two, Sessions implied that state-legal marijuana was responsible for harms actually caused by illegal activity, they wrote.

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Brian Wroblewski

Brian Wroblewski has a passion for writing, travel, food and family. Since working in and around the cannabis industry since 2008, Brian brings a unique perspective to the cannabis journalism space. With a focus on emerging brands, moving the cannabis industry forward and an undeniable passion for truth in business and journalism, find some of Brian's posts across the web on digital marketing, cannabis and a variety of different topics.

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