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PDX city leaders urge DOJ not to intervene in marijuana-related enforcement

FILE -- Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. (KATU File Photo)

Several days after US Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a marijuana policy that was lenient on federal enforcement, Portland city leaders have sent a letter to US District Attorney Billy Williams.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and the rest of the city council signed the letter, which asked Williams "not to intervene with law enforcement in Oregon or other states whose voters have affirmed their desire to regulate and tax the production and sale of cannabis ... The Portland area market for cannabis is dependent upon legitimate entities across the entire state to produce and distribute their products to our retailers."

Other officials, including Gov. Kate Brown and Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese, have also told Williams the state is dependent on legal marijuana, and that more than 19,000 jobs are reliant on the business.

The Obama administration in 2013 announced it would not stand in the way of states that legalize marijuana, so long as officials acted to keep it from migrating to places where it remained outlawed and out of the hands of criminal gangs and children. Sessions is rescinding that memo, written by then-Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, which had cleared up some of the uncertainty about how the federal government would respond as states began allowing sales for recreational and medical purposes.

Sessions' policy will let U.S. attorneys across the country decide what kinds of federal resources to devote to marijuana enforcement based on what they see as priorities in their districts, the people familiar with the decision said.


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