COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Colorado state leaders are fighting for marijuana business protections.
On Thursday morning, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he would roll back a policy put into place by the Obama Administration. The Cole Memo prevented federal agencies from investigating marijuana businesses and their practices in states where the drug was legalized. The investigations were left up to state governments and their own enforcement.
Without the Cole Memo, U.S. attorneys in respective states could decide how strongly they wanted to federal law enforcement to crack down on marijuana based companies like dispensaries and growers.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper speaking on CNN last week says, “I do think this is an issue where states’ rights are invaluable.”
The state’s Attorney General Cynthia Coffman says, “It takes away the direction that we had from previous administration that gave people some guidance and allowed them to do business legally in the state of Colorado.
Among the most vocal was Senator Cory Gardner. He was originally against legalizing marijuana when it first hit the ballot. Now, he says, “I believe what happened today is was a trampling of Colorado’s rights, it’s voters. And, sure this is was a heavily debated issue, something that I’ve already said that I opposed but the people of Colorado spoke and they spoke loudly.”
Without the Cole Memo, Gardner claims, “thousands of jobs are at risk. Millions of dollars in revenue. And, certainly the question of constitutional rights.”
Marijuana business leaders are now waiting to see if the memo might be re-instated with an omnibus spending bill, but that will only guarantee protections for less than a year. The Congressional Cannabis Caucus will have to vote whether or not to make it permanent.