Attorney General Jeff Sessions is cracking down on legal marijuana — and Colorado lawmakers are not happy about it.
Sessions issued a memo on Thursday rescinding policies enacted during the Obama administration that enabled states to grow marijuana legally. Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana, including Colorado. And its benefitted states’ economies; according to the Denver Business Journal, the marijuana industry has generated $226 million in revenues through November 2017.
Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner blasted Sessions’ memo, arguing that the decision about marijuana’s legality should be up to the states.
“This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in [Colorado] and other states,” he said. “I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.”
Gardner’s Democratic counterpart, Colorado Senator Michael Bennett, said Sessions “failed to listen to Colorado, and will create unnecessary chaos and confusion.”
At least five of Colorado’s seven members of the House of Representatives — including two Republicans, Mike Coffman and Scott Tipton — voiced their disapproval with similar sentiments. Democratic Congressman Jared Polis, who leads the Congressional cannabis caucus, called the memo “absurd,” while his Democratic colleague characterized it as “unconscionable.” And Mike Coffman insinuated the memo was a violation of the constitution’s commerce clause, which prohibits the federal government from regulating intra-state commerce.
“The decision that was made to legalize marijuana in Colorado was made by the voters of Colorado and only applies within the boundaries of our state,” he said. “Colorado had every right to legalize marijuana and I will do everything I can do protect that right against the power of an overreaching federal government.”