Nadler, Jackson Lee & Cohen Condemn Sessions’ Marijuana Policy Reversal

Jan 4, 2018 Issues: Law Enforcement

Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he is rescinding the memorandum issued in 2013 by former Deputy Attorney General James Cole that guided the efforts of federal prosecutors in marijuana cases.  With the purpose of focusing federal marijuana prosecutions on “the most significant threats, in the most effective, consistent, and rational way,” the “Cole Memo” was issued “in light of state ballot initiatives that legalize under state law the possession of small amounts of marijuana and provide for the regulation of marijuana production, processing, and sale.” 

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), and Constitution Subcommittee Ranking Member Steve Cohen (D-TN) released the following joint statement in response to this change in policy: 

“The Cole Memo was a rational approach to focus federal efforts on serious drug trafficking, recognizing that the citizens of several states have recently changed their marijuana laws in ways that should impact the limited use of federal investigative and prosecutorial resources in marijuana cases.  We fear that this change will lead to the imposition of harsh criminal penalties on small-time marijuana users who are in compliance with the laws and norms of their states.  "This change takes us in the wrong direction and is another step by the Trump Justice Department toward rolling back the sensible and more effective prosecution policies established by the Justice Department under President Obama.  The Judiciary Committee should conduct hearings on these issues so that we may develop better strategies for preventing drug abuse and focusing the Justice Department's efforts on those who pose the most serious threats to public safety.”