88°F
weather icon Clear

Nevada senators call on Sessions to respect states’ rights regarding marijuana

Updated March 2, 2017 - 4:57 pm

Both U.S. senators from Nevada asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week to let the state regulate itself when it comes to recreational marijuana.

In letters sent to Sessions’ office, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., asked the new head of the Justice Department to preserve the Cole Memorandum — an Obama administration directive that instructed federal law enforcement to take a hands-off approach to marijuana enforcement in states that legalized its use and sale.

The letters come on the heels of comments from Sessions and White House press secretary Sean Spicer made over the last week that hint at a surge in federal marijuana enforcement. While recreational use is legal in Nevada and seven other states, marijuana is illegal on a federal level.

In the letter dated Wednesday, Heller called on Sessions to follow the states’ rights mindset the attorney general has adhered to for much of his political career.

“In light of recent statements regarding a possible change in federal marijuana enforcement policy and knowing your views about and deference to states’ rights, I respectfully ask that you preserve the Cole Memorandum,” Heller wrote.

The Cole Memorandum, according to Heller, allows the Justice Department to focus on the most egregious violators of federal drug laws.

On Thursday, Cortez Masto and 10 other senators, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, sent Sessions a similar letter.

“It is essential that states that have implemented any type of practical, effective marijuana policy receive immediate assurance from the DOJ that it will respect the ability of states to enforce thoughtful, sensible drug policies in ways that do not threaten the public’s health and safety,” the letter said.

The Department of Justice declined to comment when asked this week what enforcement could be in store for states with legal marijuana. The department did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Nevadans approved recreational marijuana by a 55-45 vote in November, and possession of the drug has been legal since Jan. 1. The state said it expects temporary recreational sales could begin July 1.

Despite his personal doubts about recreational marijuana use, Heller said he wants to respect the voters’ will.

“While I maintain that, unlike medical marijuana, I have serious concerns on whether or not the benefits of recreational marijuana outweigh the drawbacks, I recognize and respect the will of Nevadans.”

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
THE LATEST
Asian business owners share successes at GOP-sponsored town hall

Members of the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce shared stories of business expansion, bonuses for their workers and stable revenue at a Tuesday afternoon round table discussion co-hosted by the Nevada Republican Party and President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.