Press Release – Going After Legal Adult Use Cannabis Would Put Federal Government on Wrong Side of History and Science



CONTACT: Carl Bergquist, Executive Director, Drug Policy Forum of Hawaiʻi (DFPHI)

(808) 518-3213;


HONOLULU, HI – The Drug Policy Forum of Hawai’i (DPFHI) strongly condemns today’s reactionary move by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to rescind the 2013 Cole Memorandum and related guidance (Cole Memo), effectively marking adult use cannabis states with a bull’s eye just days after California joined the “green rush.” The Cole Memo was issued by the Obama Administration in the wake of Colorado’s and Washington State’s successful legalization initiatives. It set a list of criteria for states to follow in order to avoid federal interest in their cannabis programs – these included the prevention of: distribution of cannabis to minors, interstate diversion of cannabis, and revenue going to criminal cartels and gangs.

This action by the Trump Administration is part of a continuum of reactionary Drug War era policies based on discredited criminal justice approaches and seemingly insatiable reliance on junk science,” said Carl Bergquist, DPFHI Executive Director. He continued: “Back in May 2017, AG Sessions announced that low-level drug offenders would once again be criminalized to the maximum extent possible, and now he begins 2018 by signaling that federal prosecutors should go after states pursuing well-regulated, democratically enacted cannabis programs.” “Fortunately, both state and federally elected leaders from both parties in the legalization states are already standing up for their constitutional right to be the ‘laboratories of democracy,’ to use former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ apt phrase.”

Supporting Hawaii’s state medical cannabis program is crucial, but state officials should now also join our federal legislators who have called for rescheduling and decriminalizing of cannabis and increased research. For now, it is essential to note that the federal government continues to be prevented from using federal tax dollars to go after state medical cannabis programs. Today’s move to rescind the Cole Memo will hopefully spur Congress to put a similar halt to any federal targeting of legal state adult use cannabis. We urge all four members of the Hawai’i Congressional delegation to co-sponsor these amendments. Regardless, Hawai’i should use the upcoming 2018 legislative session to begin charting the path toward adult use cannabis. If such a program already existed, Hawai’i would like Colorado, Alaska and Nevada surely defend it. So just because AG Sessions, informed by Reefer Madness rather than science and common sense, spoke today, saying “jump,” does not mean Hawai’i should ask “how high?”



Drug Policy Forum of Hawai’i; PO Box 83, Honolulu, HI 96810; e-mail:


Comments are closed.