Late in July, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent letters to officials in the first four states to approve adult use marijuana legalization: Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon. Officials in all four states have responded, the last of which being Colorado, who did so just last week.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D) and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman (R) took umbrage with several of Sessions’ assertions, saying he relied on outdated and incorrect information while touting the progress made in their state since retail cannabis sales began in January 2014.
“The State of Colorado has worked diligently to implement the will of our citizens and build a comprehensive regulatory and enforcement system that prioritizes public safety and public health,” the letter reads. “When abuses and unintended consequences materialize, the state has acted quickly to address any resulting harms. While our system has proven to be effective, we are constantly evaluating and seeking to strengthen our approach to regulation and enforcement.”
Colorado officials insist that their regulations are effective, citing stats that show youth marijuana use in the state declining by 12% between 2013 and 2016. The state has also seen over $500 million in tax revenue and a drop in marijuana DUIs.
Considering Colorado’s governor was an opponent of Amendment 64 when it was being battled over in 2012, it is a little odd to see him now defending legalization to Attorney General Sessions. That, perhaps more than any other single fact, is a testament to how well legalization is working in Colorado.
I have opined in writing here and elsewhere that it would seem that Jeff Sessions has enough to worry about without bothering with a legal marijuana crackdown that no one is clamoring for. I don’t see anyone marching in the streets against cannabis legalization. It is not an especially divisive issue, with clear majorities supporting legalization in every poll taken on the subject.
It has been theorized that Sessions is using this time to feel out how receptive citizens and officials would be to a crackdown; if he doesn’t see the answer to that by now, he never will. Most people and officials in legal marijuana states want Sessions to go away and spend his time on other subjects.
In fact, the message officials in Colorado sent to Sessions tracks pretty close to the message the other 3 states sent him as well. None are calling for federal interference in their affairs; they are calling for quite the opposite.