Colorado Legislators Proactive in Countering Jeff Sessions Memo

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Jeff Sessions has put the state of Colorado up-in-arms. After Sen. Cory Gardner gave a fiery speech before the senate condemning the reversal of the Cole Memo that protected state legal cannabis businesses from federal prosecutors, Colorado legislators got together to form a plan of attack.

Elected officials in Colorado, and other states that have legalized adult-use marijuana, are likely to all write legislation of their own to keep federal prosecutors from filing charges against their state legal cannabis businesses. Understanding why the federal government is tightening instead of loosening marijuana policy in complete opposition to the direction states are moving is difficult.

Legislative sources confirmed to The Cannabist that Colorado lawmakers, including Representatives Ed Perlmutter, Diana DeGette and Jared Polis, and Sen. Cory Gardner, held a call Friday afternoon to strategize on a push on marijuana-related measures — specifically crafting a spending bill provision to restrict the Justice Department from interfering with laws in Colorado and the 45 other states that have legalized cannabis in some form.

Perlmutter in an interview with The Cannabist confirmed he participated in the call and said, “there’s now urgency to start moving” on the slew of marijuana-centric bills that have been introduced in Congress but have thus far languished in committee.

“I think the Sessions memo yesterday lit a fire under a lot of people about these bills,” he said.

The clock is ticking on an immediate fix: hitching marijuana protection measures onto upcoming spending legislation being hashed out to avoid a government shutdown on Jan. 19.

“(Delegation members are trying) to work together to come up with something that can be heard promptly and try to reverse what Sessions did yesterday,” Perlmutter said.

Colorado has shown some very positive results from its legalization of cannabis, including seeing the amount of opioid related overdose deaths decline. What is the Trump administration and Jeff Sessions seeing that is so different than what we are reading about the benefits of cannabis legalization?

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