House Judiciary Democrats Call For Marijuana Hearing

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director February 7, 2018

    On February 7th, Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), requesting a hearing on the recent revocation of the Cole Memo by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

    The Cole Memo, was a Justice Department memorandum, authored by former US Deputy Attorney General James Cole in 2013 to US attorneys in all 50 states, directing prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and those licensed to engage in the plant’s production and sale, provided that such persons do not engage in marijuana sales to minors or divert the product to states that have not legalized its use, among other guidelines.

    In their letter, the Democrats wrote:

    “We fear that the elimination of the Obama Administration’s marijuana enforcement guidance will promote an inefficient use of limited taxpayer resources and subvert the will of voters who have clearly indicated a preference for legalized marijuana in their states.”

    Rep. Goodlatte has refused to hold a hearing on marijuana since he took over as the Chair of the powerful Judiciary Committee, where any serious reform legislation would originate.

    Recently, Congressman Jerry Nadler was elected by his colleagues to be the ranking member of the minority party on the committee. Rep. Nadler has earned an “A+” rating on the NORML Scorecard for his support of ending the federal prohibition of marijuana, positive votes when given the opportunity, and his co-sponsorship of legislation including the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act in the previous session of Congress.

    The current Chairman of the committee is Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), a longtime opponent of marijuana reform who has earned a “D” on the NORML scorecard for voting against reform amendments when given the opportunity. However, Rep. Goodlatte had announced earlier this year that he will not be running for reelection, which will leave a wide-open race on the Republican side who will be the top member in the next Congress.

    Given the political climate, in order to secure hearings on legislation that would end prohibition, it is essential that the next Chairman of the Judiciary be willing to address the issue.

    In the meantime, we simply will have to wait and see how Rep. Goodlatte responds.

    You can reach Congressman Goodlattes DC office by phone at: (202) 225-5431. If you call his office, let us know what his staff said in the comments below.

    Here is the full letter by the Judiciary Democrats:

    The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
    House Committee on the Judiciary
    2138 Rayburn House Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20515

    Dear Chairman Goodlatte:

    We are deeply concerned by the recent action by Attorney General Sessions rescinding Department of Justice (DOJ) marijuana enforcement guidance issued during the Obama Administration.  We write to request a hearing of the full Judiciary Committee regarding this decision.

    On January 4, 2018, Attorney General Sessions issued a memorandum to U.S. Attorneys eliminating marijuana enforcement priorities set forth under President Obama.  Previous memoranda issued during the Obama Administration, such as the memorandum issued in 2013 by then Deputy Attorney General James Cole (Cole Memo), made clear the considerations the federal government should use when deciding to prosecute violations of the Controlled Substances Act related to marijuana. Rather than targeting individuals in states that had legalized marijuana and consequently set up complex regulatory systems, the government focused on priorities that were significant to the federal government. These included preventing gangs and cartels from profiting from marijuana sales and ensuring that state-authorized marijuana was not used to hide other illegal activities.

    We fear that the elimination of the Obama Administration’s marijuana enforcement guidance will promote an inefficient use of limited taxpayer resources and subvert the will of voters who have clearly indicated a preference for legalized marijuana in their states.  Further, the January 4 memorandum by Attorney General Sessions fails to provide any evidence that prosecuting marijuana in states where it has been legalized will make Americans safer.  DOJ should instead pursue enforcement strategies that are sensible, effective, and enhance public safety, and the Judiciary Committee should be included in these discussions.

    The Judiciary Committee has a fundamental duty to conduct oversight on the Department of Justice.  It is critical that the members of our committee have an opportunity to ask questions about this recent rescission in a formal setting and evaluate potential legislation related to marijuana. Therefore, we respectfully request a hearing by the full Committee on these issues.


    Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
    Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
    Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
    Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN)
    Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA)
    Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)
    Representative David Cicilline (D-RI)
    Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
    Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA)
    Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
    Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)

    58 responses to “House Judiciary Democrats Call For Marijuana Hearing”

    1. Evening Bud says:

      Good riddance to Goodlatte–just another conservative prohibitionist asshole.

    2. Dain Bramage says:

      Marijuana legalization means little in Russia.

      But Putin owns Trump, and Trump owns the Republicans. That’s how Russian operatives can prance around the Oval Office with only Russian media in attendance — no American press allowed.

      Or how, yesterday, when asked if America was prepared to defend the upcoming midterm elections against more Russian hacking, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, in effect, “No, they’re just too clever for us. If they want to do it, they will.” Think about that.

      (Bear in mind that Rex Tillerson is one of the few exclusive Americans who have received, directly from Putin himself, a Russian “Order of Friendship” award.”)

      The Atlantic, a self-professed non-partisan journal, just came out with a piece calling for a total boycott of the Republican Party.

      From the article: “This, then, is the article we thought we would never write: a frank statement that a certain form of partisanship is now a moral necessity. The Republican Party, as an institution, has become a danger to the rule of law and the integrity of our democracy. The problem is not just Donald Trump; it’s the larger political apparatus that made a conscious decision to enable him. In a two-party system, nonpartisanship works only if both parties are consistent democratic actors. If one of them is not predictably so, the space for nonpartisans evaporates. We’re thus driven to believe that the best hope of defending the country from Trump’s Republican enablers, and of saving the Republican Party from itself, is to do as Toren Beasley did: vote mindlessly and mechanically against Republicans at every opportunity, until the party either rights itself or implodes (very preferably the former).”

      And this:

      “So we arrive at a syllogism:

      (1) The GOP has become the party of Trumpism.
      (2) Trumpism is a threat to democratic values and the rule of law.
      (3) The Republican Party is a threat to democratic values and the rule of law.”

      • Dain Bramage says:

        Toren Beasley is a random voter from Virginia who recently was interviewed by the Washington Post. He explained his Democratic vote in terms of a boycott of all things Trump, namely, Republicans.

      • Julian says:

        I’m picturing Russia like a big yacht parallel parked along the Chesapeake Bay in front of our nation’s capitol under the shadow of a great green and blue marijuana legalization tsunami. Democrats are on the crest shouting down at Republicans “Go High!” But either the few smart ones are already bailing in a hopeless rescue boat trying to face the tsunami head on, (Roger Stone) while the rest (Pete and Jeff Sessions) just drink another cocktail and pretend the tsunami isn’t there. And so the wicked Keebler Klan was smote from the earth.

        Russian money launderers DO care about marijuana legalization. If banks dont have to hide illegal marijuana cash anymore it makes it harder for Russian launderers to hide their own cash to avoid sanctions.

        • Dain Bramage says:

          We marijuana legalizers and consumers don’t want to live in a Trump-Putin Amerikan dictatorship.

          I’m no expert on Russian culture, but marijuana legalization, as a political activity, presumes the acceptance of the legitimacy of the rule of law, and further presumes a democratic process for making and changing these laws; I am assuming that neither of these premises is true for the average Russian stoner( assuming there is such a thing.)

          I assume Putin’s primary use for Trump is to diminish American global influence abroad, so they can invade Ukraine unchallenged, for example. But domestic to the USA, if what you say about marijuana and Russian money laundering is true, then Trump definitely most opposes marijuana legalization, since he covers for anything Russia does, and especially if he himself is criminally complicit with them!

          • Julian says:

            You got it. But to be fair, the racist private prison and pharmaceutical campaign endorsed Trump’s campaign in February of 2016, sealing the deal for his prohibitionist stance. Interestingly enough, Trump began his campaign with blaming Mexicans for our failed drug policies before Sessions endorsed him. Even more notable, Trump once said prohibition was a failure back in ’89 at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic ignited by our own CIA thorugh the DOJ. What changed? It was his failure of three casinos he plunged into bankruptcy during the 90’s that eventually lead to no US banks loaning any money to Trump. So Trump went into debt with the Russians and started laundering Russian money to keep the lights on at Trump tower. Bribes and law suits are one way to screw your credit, but it was the 20 year tax write off for the losses in his casinos that expired in 2016 that made him run for President… and the Russians saw the opportunity to cash in their loans.

            One of the biggest lies of the Trump campaign was that he was “running on his own money.” But he would end up loaning out his borrowed Russian cash to his doners on interest. Trump never planned to win; he just wanted the publicity to get his own Fox news show and pay off his tax and Russian debt. But the voter supressing Kochs and the Mercers also saw a useful idiot. And everyone had a need to hide dark money in the era of Citizens United. This is where bad billionaires (Kochs, Mercers, John Paulson) and (and their rotten orange wannabe) had something in common with secret DOJ bank accounts, druglords and Russian oligarchs. As money-washing casinos magnates like Sheldon Adelson come to power it seems like all the patents and purpose of prohibition are sitting at the same table and we end up with money laundering vs. marijuana legalization.

    3. Miles says:

      I fear the odds of the Republican, Bob Goodlatte, ever doing the right thing is rather slim.

      Virginians, take note, let’s vote this guy the hell out as soon as we get the chance!!! He is bad for Virginians and he is bad for our country!

      Make sure you all get out and vote this coming November. Let’s make our voices heard – loud and clear.

      If Virginia does not legalize cannabis for adult use my wife and I have decided to move somewhere, like Colorado or California, where we can live our lives basking in the freedom that should be for all Americans.

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        What I have come to understand about Republicans and marijuana:

        1. Most Republicans oppose legalization.
        2. The Republicans who do support legalization will always vote with the Republican Pary, regardless.
        3. The Republican Party always opposes legalization.

        So, Republicans who support legalization are worse than useless; they are nothing but a deceptive distraction, like false advertising. Their personal intentions and beliefs are irrelevant as a result of their unwavering devotion to the cult of the GOP.

        Boycott ALL REPUBLICANS!

        • Miles says:

          I hear you Mark and I can tell you, for certain, that I will vote every chance I get and none of my votes will ever go to a Republican!!!

          I no longer have any trust, whatsoever, in them doing the right thing. I will always remember Goodlatte and it won’t be a pleasant memory. His kind are just despicable! In my mind him and Roy Moore were cut from the same cloth. I hate them.

        • Mark Mitcham says:

          Correction: I should have said “until recently” most Republicans opposed legalization, and “at 51%, support among Republicans remains tepid.”

          Fifty-one percent of Republicans surveyed by Gallup (Oct 2017) said they support legalization, up sharply from 42 percent a year ago. Even larger majorities of independents (67 percent) and Democrats (72 percent) are in favor of legal marijuana.

          An interesting milestone, but it doesn’t change the overall situation.

        • Joe Preusz says:

          Obama controlled all three branches of government.

          Why didn’t he legalize marijuana?

          You are just a hater.

          • Dain Bramage says:

            @ Joe Preusz,
            But, Trump and his white supremacist Republicans us so many, many valid reasons to hate him, and them! President Obama has more class in his little toe than Trump’s entire phony fucking administration.

            Yeah, it’s true: I don’t have any use for White Trash like Trump and his supporters. Crawl back under the rocks where you belong.

          • Dain Bramage says:

            Obama faced a hostile Republican Congress, that’s why. How you lie….

          • Mark Mitcham says:

            I hate marijuana prohibition. And I hate the liars that promote it. So naturally, I hate Trump and the Republicans!

          • Evening Bud says:


            The Republiks control all three branches of the Fed. Why haven’t they legalized?

          • Sean says:

            @Joe Preusz: Oh fancy that! Trump calling other people “haters”. Trump voters and supporters are the real haters. If their vote for a sociopathic, misanthropic, and sexist bigot is not a hate crime, it sure as hell ought to be.

    4. ken says:

      THE PEOPLE of the U.S are tired of the lies and Jeff sessions THE will of the people time to regulate like alcohol the peoples choice .Besides look at the Trillions of dollars that have been lost fighting a losing battle .tax it no one has ever OD from cannabis .

    5. Mike Eraca says:

      Marijuana is the safest drug known to man. It is safer than any pill that is man made. It should be taken off the federal schedule 1 list. It is a life saver that can help millions of people. Think of this, if we were fighting for alcohol to be legal, it probably wouldn’t happen now days because of all the negative affects of alcohol. Marijuana doesn’t have anywhere near the negative affects of alcohol. Stop trying to control a natural herb that grows on this green earth.

    6. daniel mullins says:

      people have voted for it.you are to respect their right to choose

    7. Elizabeth says:

      We should be asking WHY the U.S. has a patent on marijuana. But it’s ok if the pharmaceutical corporation wants to make synthetic marijuana who wants that not me. Money talks and a lot of politicians walk to the bank.

      • Anonymous says:

        These committee chairs are far too powerful and should be eliminated. A single person should not have absolute say in what bills become laws, and this essentially is what happens. The subcommittee agenda should be determined by vote, or in the least the decision by a committee chair should be allowed to be vetoed by the committee.

        • SCOTT BELCHER says:


      • Julian says:

        We have a responsibility as marijuana legalization advocates to educate our brothers and sisters about the great difference between the natural balanced homeostasis and synergy we get from whole plant marijuana and separate this difference from the patented deadly synthetic molecules we prescribe from pharmaceutical private insurance…

        Plants vs Zombies…

      • Julian says:

        US Patent 6630507 on “cannabinoids as neuroprotectants” was mentioned in affidavits recently filed in the case of Washington v Sessions, where 12-year-old Alexis Bortell will testify against AG Jeff Sessions and the CSAct. Oral arguments are scheduled for the 14th, wednesday on Valentine’s Day.

    8. Matt says:

      GOOD news to hear. Write your Congress folk! A hearing must be held, and, if so, will shed more light on the great debate and push for legalization.

    9. dissapointed by dems says:

      i am glad to hear this.

      lately, the dems seem to be more concernsd with granting rights to illegal immigrants,
      than protecting the rights of citizens.

      like shutting down the government over DACA,

      and the 8 hour pelosi DACA fillibuster that just happened.

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        @ dissapointed,
        We Democrats stand with Dreamers AND stoners.


        So go fuck yourself.

      • dinos are worse than reppies says:

        THAT, is why hillary lost.

        while trump was talking about
        (lying about)
        helping the working class people,

        hillary was making HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of dollars,
        giving speeches to the super-rich at gold man sacks…
        (she made more $$$ in an hour,
        than we can make in a lifetime)

        then, she refused to release the transcripts of those speeches,
        so we could not find out what government-paid-for gifts,
        she promised to give to them…

        and she never promised ANYTHING to us.

        she did not say one word about marijuana legalization,
        or medical marijuana,

        she did not even want to raise the minimum wage.

        we need democrats,
        who will be REAL democrats,
        and work for US,

        NOT ‘republican-lite’ democrats,
        (d.i.n.o. s; dems-in-name-only)
        who work for the exact same people the republicans work for.

        • Dain Bramage says:

          @ dinos,
          Your obsession with Hillary marks you as a lunatic Trump supporter. Consequently, you may go fuck yourself. The Resistance will deal with you and your kind of Russian traitors.

        • Negative Nancy says:

          We will boycott all Republicans, as punishment for Trump.

        • Dain Bramage says:

          People, here’s what is going on with commentor “dinos”: Do you remember how, during the 2016 Presidential Election, Russian trolls and bots pretended to be Bernie supporters?

          Same thing here.

          Dinos isn’t coming from the left, he is coming from the alt-right. He isn’t concerned, as Bernie was, about Corporate Influence and “dark money” in politics. Make no mistake: he is trying to divide the left in order to protect Trump.

          Don’t fall for that shit!

          • Dain Bramage says:

            P.S. Hillary isn’t running for office. She no longer holds a public office. She is a private citizen.

            One sure way to spot a Trump fascist is, if they have an obsession with Hillary Clinton.

            It’s a sickness!

          • Julian says:

            Don’t feed the trolls. Just tell them “Dosvidanya, Comrade!”

    10. Richard Arndt says:

      Okay let’s look at history when prohibition was against alcohol who became powerful. The bootlegging gangsters Who Sold alcohol. Who became rich and Powerful from selling pot the South American cartels. Who in turn also push opiates and cocaine. Remember the crack epidemic. Remember the Fast and Furious operation and the CIA involvement. Need I say more.