Wide fan leaves off a licensed cultivator's crop in Washington state.

Phil Roeder

In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the governors of Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska asked that federal authorities maintain Cole Memo and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network guidance that provides “the foundation for state regulatory [cannabis] systems” vital to maintain state control.

In the letter, dated April 3, the governors explain that overhauling the Cole Memo – a product of the Obama Administration – would “produce unintended and harmful consequences” and likely divert existing cannabis products into the illicit market. The governors say the policy guidance “strike a reasonable balance” between state and federal laws.

“Likewise, without FinCEN guidance, financial institutions will be less willing to provide services to marijuana-related businesses,” the letter says. “This would force industry participants to be even more cash reliant, posing safety risks to the public and to state regulators conducting enforcement activity.”

Last month, Sessions indicated that he may maintain guidelines set forth by the Cole Memo.

“The Cole Memorandum set up some policies under President Obama’s Department of Justice about how cases should be selected in those states and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid,” Sessions told reporters in Virginia during a question-and-answer session. He added that while he “may have some different ideas…in addition to” the memo, federal authorities would “not be able to go into a state a pick up the work police and sheriffs have been doing for decades.”

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