Koch Network Warns Trump Against ‘Failed’ Cannabis Fight

The conservative Koch political network is coming out hard against the Trump administration’s plan to step up enforcement of the nation’s cannabis laws, joining a growing group on the political right who are urging the president to push back against drug war hardliners like Attorney General Jeff Sessions.


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“You are never going to win the war on drugs. Drugs won,” Mark Holden, one of the influential network’s top leaders, told reporters in Colorado Springs, according to the Denver Post. His statements  came as the network opened a three-day retreat at The Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs.

Holden, the general counsel for Koch Industries—the second-largest privately owned company in the  US—said the network has disagreed with Sessions’s decision to re-evaluate a federal policy not to interfere in state medical marijuana systems and taken issue with the attorney general’s request that Congress lift restrictions to allow the justice department to crack down on state-legal medical programs.


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“I’m not here to say our position is legalize drugs or anything else,” Holden said. “But I don’t think that we should criminalize those types of things, and we should let the states decide.”

In a letter sent in May and made public earlier this month, Sessions urged Congress to roll back a protection known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent certain states “from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” The rule has stymied at least one high-profile case against a California cannabis business.


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While he cautioned against reading too much into the network’s stance, Holden, according to the Post, told reporters that medical marijuana should be “off-limits” to federal law enforcement.

Charles and David Koch have spent millions to further their conservative political goals. Holden, who is currently in charge of a network-backed effort to address overcriminalization and criminal justice reform, said federal cannabis enforcement is another example of a “failed big government top-down approach.”

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