Oregon just punked Jeff Sessions for citing a bogus pot study
Think Progress/ by Alan Pyke / August 23, 2017
Last spring, a leaked report from the Oregon State Police gave marijuana legalization advocates a chill — and drug warriors like Attorney General Jeff Sessions a boost.
The state’s systems for tracking legally grown recreational marijuana were an abysmal failure, the report said, with huge quantities of the cannabis produced in the state funneling out to black-market dealers in states that hadn’t yet legalized the crop.
Even under prior Attorneys General who don’t share Sessions’ ardent, retrograde views on pot, this was trouble. Such interstate trafficking problems are one of the few surefire ways to get the federal government to crack down on your legalization experiment under existing Department of Justice guidelines commonly referred to as the Cole Memorandum.
Sessions pounced, though not with the alacrity observers had expected. In a July 24 letter to Gov. Kate Brown (D), Sessions cited the state troopers’ report in detail and laid groundwork for a federal intercession into the state’s blooming legal pot trade. A long-deferred legal showdown over conflicting federal and state law on the drug seemed nigh.
But there’s just one snag: The report is bogus.
“The Oregon State Police determined that the draft report required significant additional work and revision, because the data was inaccurate and the heavily extrapolated conclusions were incorrect,” Brown wrote in a reply to Sessions on Tuesday. “I would draw your attention to the sources relied upon in the document, which include an assortment of random blog and newspaper articles that should hardly form the basis of an informed policy discussion.”
Brown points out that Oregon’s legal market actually only came online that same month, governed by the same kind of high-tech “seed-to-sale” tracking systems present in other states keen to stay on D.C.’s good side. She notes that the state’s older medical pot system was moved onto that same intense tracking regimen in May.
Where Brown’s explanation of Sessions’ error in latching onto the false report is gentle and patient, the previous correspondence she attaches from Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton is blunt.
Hampton’s staff “attempted to make clear the document was not accurate, not validated, outdated and the Oregon State Police did not endorse the conclusions in the draft” when it first leaked to the press in March, he wrote to Sessions on August 16. “Unfortunately, you sourced the same leaked draft document as evidence against Oregon’s marijuana regulatory structure.”
Sessions either hasn’t noticed for five months that the information he based his threats to Oregon on was already disavowed by its law enforcement authors, or willfully cherry-picked a damaging slate of falsehoods to create a toehold to interfere with Oregon’s marketplace.
Oregon is the third legalization state to call out Sessions since his initial round of eerie letters went out this spring. Washington and Alaska officials levied similar responses a week earlier. “Both states note that the data Sessions utilized when discussing their state’s respective regulatory regimes is out of date and incomplete,” The Cannabist reported after obtaining copies of the letters. Colorado officials have not yet replied.
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