The marijuana industry is feeling some relief after Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and signaled he will leave state pot laws alone.
Sessions met with Hickenlooper and three other governors from states with legal marijuana Wednesday to have a conversation on his approach to both marijuana and immigration. Despite harsh rhetoric against marijuana since his confirmation as attorney general, Sessions allegedly implied federal marijuana enforcement in legal states is not a real priority for the Department of Justice, reports Newsweek.
The news helped calm the marijuana industry that was growing increasingly anxious over the rhetoric used by Sessions, which implied a looming federal crackdown. He said in February, “there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think, and there’s big money involved.”
“While we still don’t know exactly how closely the administration will stick to President Trump’s clear campaign pledges to respect state marijuana laws, this is a positive signal,” Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The fact is, legalization is working well in states that have enacted it, and a growing majority of the public supports ending prohibition.”
Sessions is currently reviewing the Cole Memorandum, a set of guidelines established in 2013 that direct DOJ to focus marijuana enforcement efforts on violent crimes and distribution in states without legalization laws. He allegedly told the governors Wednesday that the memo is, “not too far from good policy,” according to The Denver Post.
Hickenlooper noted Sessions made it very clear he is against marijuana legalization of any form and will continue to speak out against it, but acknowledged the democratic right of voters to make up their own minds.
“He certainly was very direct and clearly said they’ve got a lot of priorities, and, at one point, he said, ‘Well you haven’t seen us cracking down, have you?’” Hickenlooper said on MSNBC, according to Newsweek. “He is anti-drugs in all forms and he’s not going to, in any way, encourage anyone to start a marijuana business. That being said, he didn’t give me any reason to think that he is going to come down and suddenly try to put everyone out of business.”
States with legal marijuana laws have been scrambling to pass legislation aimed at protecting users from federal investigations or raids on businesses operating legally in the state due to federal uncertainty.
Medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and Washington, D.C., where it is also legal for recreational use. Voters in Maine, Nevada, California and Massachusetts all approved measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use on Election Day. Nearly 20 percent of Americans now have access to legal pot.
“It would be a huge mistake — policy-wise and politically — for the Justice Department to try to reverse the course of history on marijuana, and it seems like the attorney general might be starting to realize it,” Angell told TheDCNF.