Back in April, Governor John Hickenlooper and the governors of three other states that have legalized recreational marijuana sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, urging them to respect the rights of states to pass such measures, and to consult with the states that have been operating under 2013's Cole Memorandum before making any enforcement changes.
It took until the end of July for Sessions to officially respond to Hickenlooper, though he's made plenty of statements in the interim and even met with Hickenlooper and Governor Jay Inslee of Washington. In his response, Sessions cites rising out-of-state diversion of marijuana, youth use, emergency-room visits and traffic deaths related to marijuana as cause for "serious questions." The stats he used, however, were from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Report, a report that has drawn criticism for its data-collecting and presentation methods.
In his letter, Sessions also questioned the power of the Cole Memorandum said that the Department of Justice's authority to enforce federal law in states that have legalized marijuana remains unaltered.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
After receiving the letter, Hickenlooper's office promised to provide "a comprehensive response." That response went out on August 24, and it's indeed comprehensive, signed by both Hickenlooper and Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman:
Marijuana Deals Near You
Point by point, the letter from Coffman and Hickenlooper debunks the junk science and just plain junk in Sessions's response to the governors. "We take seriously our duty to create a robust marijuana regulatory and enforcement system," they conclude.
Here's hoping that Sessions takes his duty to enforce states' rights equally seriously.