President Donald Trump’s aides have publicly threatened a crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana — and the new White House administration may already be taking steps to make good on that pledge, according to an email obtained by International Business Times.
The correspondence showed a Justice Department official requesting information about marijuana cases from the state Attorney General’s office in Colorado — one of seven states where voters have passed ballot measures to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. The email came just after both a top White House official and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated the Trump administration’s opposition to marijuana legalization at the state level.
“Are you able to provide me the state docket numbers for the following cases?” said the email from a Justice Department official to Michael Melito, a prosecutor in Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s office. “Some of our intel people are trying to track down info regarding some of DEA’s better marijuana investigations for the new administration. Hopefully it will lead to some positive changes.”
The email, dated March 6, was obtained by IBT through an open records request. The specific identity of the sender was redacted, but the email signature appeared to be from a “group supervisor” on the “financial investigations team” of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s field office in Denver.
Trump campaigned for president pledging to respect the right of states to legalize marijuana. However, on Feb. 23, Trump’s White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, told reporters that “There is still a federal law that we need to abide by...when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.” He said that when it came to states that have legalized the drug, “I do believe that you'll see greater enforcement” of the federal law prohibiting the recreational use of marijuana.
Spicer added that while Congress has restricted the Justice Department’s ability to punish states that have legalized medical marijuana, “that's very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice, I think, will be further looking into.”
Those comments were followed up a few days later by Sessions, who told reporters: “States they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not."
Politico later reported that Sessions privately reassured Republican senators that a marijuana crackdown was not imminent.