Colorado Officials Ready to Fight Trump Administration Over State's Marijuana Laws

PBS Newshour via YouTube
After Attorney General Jeff Sessions told an assembly of the country's attorneys general that state marijuana laws are in violation of federal law, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman came out fighting for this state's rights.

Coffman, a Republican, said that while the Trump administration's intentions regarding marijuana are unclear, she plans to uphold the Colorado Constitution — including Amendment 64, which legalized the recreational sale and use of marijuana in 2012.

"I had the impression from President Trump, when he was candidate Trump, that he was going to let the states make this decision," Coffman told Colorado Public Radio. "It seems to me that [Attorney] General Sessions is less inclined to do that."

Coffman said she plans to defend Colorado's right to maintain the recreational marijuana laws that are already on the books, but can't determine the next step until the administration makes its intentions clear.
"I very much want to talk to them about coming to Colorado, (to) see what we have put in place and how our regulatory and enforcement scheme works," she said.

Coffman isn't the only Colorado official speaking out.

In an appearance on Bill O'Reilly's FoxNews show March 1, Governor John Hickenlooper defended Colorado's marijuana laws — even though he'd originally opposed Amendment 64.
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PBS Newshour via YouTube
"In downtown Denver, there are a lot of people who are just stoned from morning to night because they can get this stuff," O'Reilly told the governor.

Hickenlooper disputed that. "We don't have evidence that this is because of marijuana," he said. "There are a lot of other social issues around homelessness and addiction."

Hickenlooper's appearance with O'Reilly (a Denver anchor decades ago) came days after interviews on Meet the Press on February 26 and MSNBC on February 24.

Colorado is getting support from other politicians whose states have legalized marijuana.

On March 2, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren sent an open letter to Sessions citing concern over press secretary Sean Spicer's comments suggesting that the Department of Justice might begin enforcement against states with legal marijuana laws.

"These voter-approved laws have been evaluated by Governors and state Attorneys General, rigorously debated by state legislatures and the communities they serve, and implemented through thoughtful processes to ensure the proper regulated production and sale of marijuana," Warren wrote. "We respectfully request that you uphold the DOJ's existing policy regarding states that have implemented strong and effective regulations for recreational marijuana use and ask that the Cole Memorandum remain in place. It is critical that states can continue to implement these laws."

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet signed on to Warren's letter, as did nine other senators.
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Kate McKee Simmons interned at the National Catholic Reporter, was a reporter for the New York Post, and spent a brief stint in Israel learning international reporting before writing for Westword.

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