Koch Industries, run by the conservative Koch Brothers, is urging the Trump Administration to back off of federal marijuana enforcement, saying the states that want to legalize it have spoken and it’s a matter of states’ rights
“Instead of prosecuting non-violent drug offenders for doing what has already been legalized in half a dozen states and decriminalized in several others, the administration would be better suited working with members of Congress to reform outdated sentencing laws,” Mark Holden, Koch Industries’ general counsel and senior vice president wrote recently on the company’s web page.
The Koch Brothers’ company’s decision to take on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session on the marijuana issue isn’t necessarily particularly surprising in terms of its stand on the issue – it’s been a supporter of states’ rights. But it’s also been a major backer of conservative and Republican causes and candidates, which has drawn attention to its split with the Trump Administration in this case.
“In states across the country, from Alaska to California to Maine, citizens have spoken on marijuana,” Holden writes on the company’s page. “They have voted to legalize and regulate its sale and use for medicinal or recreational purposes. In other states, they have voted to decriminalize its use or possession. Koch believes it should be up to the states to decide whether to legalize or decriminalize it, in accordance with their constitutional and legal processes.
“But by rescinding a set of memos that largely discouraged federal prosecutors from bringing marijuana-related charges in jurisdictions that had legalized sales, the United States Justice Department has called into question every single local—and lawful—decision,” Holden wrote.
“That Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a Republican appointee in a Republican administration, is undoing a Democratic appointee’s work from a Democratic administration is irrelevant,” he wrote. “Republicans and Democrats alike have criticized the decision, and for good reason: It does little to improve the lives of people in our communities.”
Holden ties Koch’s interest in marijuana reform mostly to a strong belief in the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, saying that powers not specifically delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are left up to the states to regulate.
But, Holden, acknowledges, it’s also about money.
“The legalization of marijuana in various states has also created an industry of entrepreneurs and investors—business owners, growers and lawful distributors—whose livelihoods are now at stake because of federal overreach, he wrote.