Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
In 2012, Washington and Colorado voters made history when they approved measures to legalize recreational marijuana. Washington Initiative 502 “authorizes the state liquor board to regulate and tax marijuana for persons twenty-one years of age or older.”Since the vote in Washington, the Liquor Board has written a complex set of rules for the state’s new, legal recreational cannabis marketplace. The agency has also set limits on the amount of marijuana that can be grown. And the Board has begun to license growers, processors and retailers.For now, the Obama administration has signaled it will not interfere with Washington and Colorado’s legal pot experiment, unless there is evidence that legal pot is “leaking” to other states or children are getting access to the legal product. The feds are also watching to see if criminal organizations exploit the legal market.The first marijuana retail stores in Washington opened in July 2014.Recreational marijuana is also set to become legal in Oregon on July 1, 2015 after voters approved Measure 91 in November 2014.

Chill On Our Legal Pot, Northwest Governors Write To Trump Administration

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network

The governors of Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Alaska have written a joint letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking for forbearance with their marijuana policy experiments.

The letter sent Monday said the governors of the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana are "sympathetic" to the administration's concerns regarding marijuana because they had "apprehensions" themselves before the states' voters approved legal pot.

The governors wrote that regulated markets are working and went on to warn of "unintended and harmful consequences" if the federal government cracks down in their states.

There was no immediate reaction to the letter from the Trump administration. Just over a month ago, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said at a regular briefing that the Justice Department would step up enforcement "with respect to recreational marijuana," but he did not offer more details.

Sessions did not respond to a previous letter on this same subject sent by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson in mid-February, according to the governor's press office. In that letter, Inslee and Ferguson, both Democrats, asked for a meeting with Sessions to discuss how "illegal trafficking activity is being displaced by a closely regulated marijuana industry that pays hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes."

The pair asked Sessions to hold off "taking unilateral actions.” The federal government has so far left legal marijuana markets alone.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.