Recent statements by new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions regarding the recreational marijuana industry have many on edge, concerned for a return to the days of constant federal raids and crackdowns on businesses and individuals abiding state cannabis law.
In response to this, a number of Sessions’ fellow Republicans – including Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman – are urging Sessions to reconsider.
Specifically, Coffman told The Denver Post she extended an invitation to Sessions to come to Colorado and see how the state has managed and regulated its recreational marijuana industry. Coffman’s invitation was reportedly extended in a meeting with some of Session’s top staffers in Washington D.C. Coffman noted that Colorado is a good place for Sessions to start any inquiry on the matter, as Colorado is the state with the longest history of recreational marijuana in the country.
Coffman had been attending a meeting for the National Association of Attorneys General, for whom Sessions gave a speech indicating his firm believe that drugs are at the core of criminal activity. He further voiced his fierce opposition to marijuana legalization, and voiced skepticism that “marijuana sold at every corner grocery store” makes us a healthier, better country.
Still, Coffman reported Sessions’ staffers did express interest in coming to Colorado and reviewing the regulatory framework for recreational marijuana. She said his comments appeared to be broad policy statements, absent any specific plans for how he would address legalized marijuana in his new role.
The remarks offered by Sessions weren’t much different than what was revealed by White House Pres Secretary Sean Spicer days earlier, when he told reporters the Department of Justice is likely to bolster enforcement of federal anti-marijuana laws, even in states that have legalized the drug.
Coffman opined the Trump administration hasn’t determined yet an exact approach, or whether they will do anything starkly different from the Obama administration. She said the sense she gets at this juncture is that legal marijuana may be left alone in states where it is legal, but that federal government agents will be dogged about ensuring the substance doesn’t cross state lines.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has made halting the flow of black market marijuana from Colorado to other states a top priority over the last two years. The agency has partnered with local law enforcement agencies to halt marijuana grow operations – mostly in residential homes – that exist for the purpose of providing supply for out-of-state distributors. The DEA has launched numerous investigations, served search warrants and seized large amounts of marijuana.
The Colorado attorney general said that if conflicts arise between the federal government and the state on the issue of recreational marijuana laws, she plans to uphold state laws. However, our cannabis lawyers understand she did warn there could be situations in which her office would not have the authority to intervene. For example, if there were cases that involved specific businesses or individual marijuana users, action would likely be under the federal government’s purview. That would mean the state wouldn’t have standing to be a plaintiff or even a party in certain cases.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Colorado AG invites Jeff Sessions to come visit a recreational marijuana state and “see what we have done”, March 1, 2017, By Jesse Paul, The Denver Post
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