Rep. Young’s Cannabis Caucus wants to 'educate' Trump administration on pot

WASHINGTON — The newly formed House Cannabis Caucus, co-launched by Alaska Republican Congressman Don Young, responded Thursday to a statement from a White House spokesman about potentially increasing federal prosecution of recreational marijuana smokers.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday the U.S. Department of Justice is looking into "greater enforcement" of the federal prohibition on recreational marijuana use.

"Because again there's a big difference between the medical use … that's very different than the recreational use," Spicer said Thursday.

In a statement, the Cannabis Caucus chairs said Spicer's statements reaffirmed the need for their caucus and they would work to "educate" the administration on the impacts of legalized marijuana.

Young launched the Cannabis Caucus last week with Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and Jared Polis, D-Colo. Young said at the launch he doesn't condone marijuana use, but he does feel strongly about state citizens' right to decide on the law.

DOJ is now run by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, most recently a Republican senator from Alabama. Sessions didn't say during his confirmation hearing he would go after marijuana users, but in the past he has strongly expressed his belief that pot should remain illegal.

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Marijuana is legal for recreational use in Alaska, seven other states and the District of Columbia.

"Last November, eight more states passed measures to increase access to state-legal cannabis, and today more than 300 million Americans live in states with access to adult-use marijuana or some form of medical cannabis," the caucus said in its statement.

The four representatives said they hope to "educate this administration on the need for more sensible marijuana policies and share the many experiences states have had with the legalization of cannabis. Together, we will continue to work in a bipartisan manner to reform our failed marijuana policies and provide a voice for Americans who have overwhelmingly voted for a more sensible drug policy."

At the caucus' launch Feb. 16, the congressmen said they want to pass a broad array of legislation to facilitate the sale of marijuana where it is legal under state law.

Erica Martinson

Erica Martinson is a former reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Washington, D.C.