Pittsburgh, PA – January 3, 2018 – Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa today decried a move by the federal government to rescind state protections for medical marijuana programs.
“Pennsylvania went through a very thorough process backed by expert testimony, public support, and legal review to pass legislation enabling the use of medical marijuana here,” said Senator Costa. “The Trump Administration’s move to undermine our policy will prevent children and adults with serious medical conditions from getting the treatment they deserve – that they fought and waited for for far too long.”
Today, Attorney General Sessions rescinded a decade of Justice Department guidance on the treatment of medical marijuana by federal law enforcement. The rescission is likely to threaten the newly enacted Medical Marijuana Act that has received widespread acclaim.
The Obama Administration’s Justice Department provided several memos, including one known as the Cole Memo, that largely freed states to make their own regulations on medical marijuana. The Cole Memo, issued in 2013 by then-Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole and in light of the rise of state medical marijuana laws, clarified that the federal government would focus its limited prosecutorial resources only on the most serious priorities related to criminal marijuana activity including keeping marijuana out of states where it was not legal, away from gangs and cartels, and out of the hands of children.
States, citizens and businesses have been acting in good faith under that guidance for years, continuing to protect against diversion of state-authorized marijuana across state borders and illegal trafficking of marijuana.
Rescission of the Cole Memo, among others, further jeopardizes our financial institutions working with new medical marijuana businesses, institutions which have been operating lawfully under Treasury Department guidance based on the Cole Memo. Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C. have enacted some form of medical marijuana laws that are now potentially undermined by the guidance.
“Pennsylvania is on the precipice of operating one of the most successfully designed medical marijuana programs in the country,” Costa said. “We cannot turn back now; The Senate Democratic Caucus has been at the forefront of the campaign to create this program, and we will remain at the forefront to protect it.”