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

A legislative panel in Washington state will consider reducing the tax on recreational marijuana.
Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
A legislative panel in Washington state will consider reducing the tax on recreational marijuana.

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.

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.
Tom Banse
Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.