Washington State House Democrats


Statement from House Commerce and Gaming Chair David Sawyer (D-Tacoma) on USDOJ’s decision to rescind policy allowing Washington state to implement legalized and regulated marijuana market

Rep. Sawyer with AG Bob Ferguson and Governor Jay Inslee at the AP Legislative Forum on January 4, 2018.
Rep. Sawyer with AG Bob Ferguson and Governor Jay Inslee at the AP Legislative Forum on January 4, 2018. Courtesy LSS photo

“Today the Trump Administration reversed years of federal policy that has enabled states like Washington to implement a legal marijuana market as the voters directed us to do in 2012. Over the past few years, legislators have worked in a bipartisan fashion to ensure Washington’s recreational market complies with the enforcement guidelines outlined in the Department of Justice’s Cole Memorandum. These include steps to prevent minors from accessing marijuana, preventing cross-border sales to other states, and preventing adverse public health consequences.

“By rescinding the Cole Memorandum and other guidance, the Trump Administration is jeopardizing the protections our state created for a tightly-regulated market, enabling the black market to jeopardize public safety and health. This move also jeopardizes our state budget, which allocates millions of dollars in marijuana revenues toward things like substance abuse prevention and treatment, youth services, and children’s health. It’s worth noting nearly 20 percent of marijuana revenues go to the state’s General Fund, which funds our public schools. The budget passed in the 2017 session dedicates over 50 percent of the General Fund toward our K-12 public schools, so the potential loss of revenue from a legal marijuana market could harm these investments.

“In anticipation of this short-sighted move by the Trump Administration, I have sponsored legislation together with colleagues from both sides of the aisle that would prohibit the use of public resources to assist the federal government in any activity that will impede or interfere with our state’s marijuana market. As chair of the House Commerce & Gaming committee, I will work to maintain and protect this market and the will of the voters.”