SALEM, Ore. - (Updated with Buehler interview)
Oregon's attorney general and a Republican state lawmaker from Bend on Friday joined an Oregon Democratic senator in defending Oregon's voter-approved recreational marijuana program and criticizing the White House for indicating federal law enforcement may crack down on states that allow it.
Buehler spoke to NewsChannel 21 via Skype on Friday morning.
"I think it's been successful," he said of the recreational marijuana program. "It's been well-received, there has been a lot of work in the state to try to get it to be acceptable for people, and I think we're there."
The lawmaker said the new recreational marijuana program has been successful in generating money for the state. Last year, the state's marijuana sales tax brought in $60 million, the money going toward schools, cities and drug rehab programs.
Under federal law, marijuana is still considered a controlled substance, meaning drug agents could conduct raids and shut down marijuana businesses.
"I think that's to be seen," Buehler said, "and that's something that the Legislature needs to deeply think about."
Buehler earlier Friday issued this statement in response to the Trump administration’s Thursday comments on recreational marijuana:
“I hope the new president and attorney general keep their hands off Oregon’s marijuana law," he said. "They should respect the will of the voters and honor state’s rights. Federal intervention will only make a legal market a black market once again.”
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., voiced a similar viewpoint Thursday after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made comments that Wyden said were "disparaging the decisions American voters have made to legalize recreational marijuana in eight states and Washington, D.C.”
"The federal government needs to respect the decisions of Oregon voters. Instead, the Trump Administration is threatening states' rights, including the rights of one in five Americans who live in a state where marijuana is legal," Wyden said.
"Wasting taxpayer dollars and burdening our law enforcement agencies to go after law-abiding recreational marijuana users distracts from going after criminals and threats to our safety. I will fight hard against ridiculous federal government intrusions into our state," the senator added.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum provided this statement Friday to NewsChannel 21 on the developments involving recreational marijuana:
"Oregon has a young and growing marijuana industry that is focused on safe, pesticide-free cannabis for those who need it for medical purposes, and for those who are of age and choose to use it. Like alcohol, it is highly regulated and taxed, which benefits the public's health and safety-and benefits the state's revenues. In Oregon, we collected over $60 million in taxes in the first year of legalization.
"In my role as state AG, I plan to continue to work hard to make sure Oregon's growing marijuana industry flourishes. This will include consulting with our neighboring states that have passed similar laws and potentially working together with those state AG's who choose to protect our people's decisions to allow both medical and recreational use of marijuana.
"It is my sincere hope to be able to focus Oregon's limited law enforcement resources on truly dangerous drugs, like methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl, and on crimes of violence."