Like other Governors of states that have legalized recreational marijuana and received a letter recently from Attorney General Jeff Sessions with concerns about their states’ programs, Washington State and Alaska are questioning the data cited by Sessions in those letters.
It’s not only Washington and Alaska, either: Oregon also called out Sessions, saying the data cited in his critique of their program was based on information that had been leaked before data collecting and analysis was complete; moreover, Oregon was already attempting to address many of the concerns cited in the letter with legislation targeted to those issues. Washington and Alaska found similar inconsistencies in the data cited in Sessions’ letters.
Sessions’ letter to Alaska cited the 2015 State Trooper Annual Drug Report, questioning whether the state’s regulations adequately address and protect federal interests. The problem with that is that the data cited is from the year before legalization went into effect: legal sales did not start in the state until 2016. “The report simply does not speak to the success or failure of the new regulatory framework,” wrote Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and his Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth in their response.
Washington State’s Governor Jay Inlsee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson also disputed the data cited in Sessions’ letter to their state. The central data in the letter to Washington cited the March 2016 Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NW HIDTA) report on marijuana in the state, which the Governor and Attorney General asserted was outdated, and had already been addressed in legislation. Sessions had also cited a report stating that Washington cannabis had been diverted to 43 other states, but Gov. Inslee and AG Ferguson refuted this, saying that those finding were based on data gathered “several years before our recreational sales began.”
The trend of Sessions citing outdated, incomplete, or irrelevant data in his insinuations that states with legal recreational cannabis aren’t protecting federal interests, a direct threat of federal interference in those states, can only be founded on shaky and outdated data. In short, Sessions strikes out yet again in the battle against legal cannabis.