Be encouraged, but stay vigilant.
That’s the gist of the message Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper delivered to the cannabis community following his meeting this week with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Hickenlooper requested and received an hour with Sessions in D.C. on Wednesday, with much of the conversation focused on his state’s marijuana laws. He spoke to MSNBC’s Meet the Press Daily and The Cannabist about the conversation. A breakdown:
Sessions isn’t budging on his personal marijuana stance: Hickenlooper said the AG — who had no trouble keeping marijuana in Alabama illegal — “couldn’t have been more emphatic” about legalization being a bad idea. “He is very clear. He is anti-drugs in all forms and he’s not going to, in any way, encourage anyone to start a marijuana business.”
Sessions has some respect for the will of the people: Hickenlooper says Sessions understood Colorado’s marijuana regulations were the result of the will of the voters. “He certainly was very direct and clearly said they’ve got a lot of priorities,” Hickenlooper relayed. “And, at one point, he said, ‘Well you haven’t seen us cracking down, have you?’”
Sessions is reviewing the Cole Memo: Hickenlooper said a policy position appears to be in the works. “He’s obviously reviewing the Cole (Memo) … (They’re working on) a version of that that makes sense for this administration. We’ll have to see how far they go.” As we covered in our popular Sessions Watch series, the AG has previously (and grudgingly) called Obama’s memo — which outlines how states can avoid federal interference with their marijuana laws — “valid.”
Sessions won’t be touring a grow operation any time soon: Hickenlooper invited Sessions to visit his state and see how the regulated industry operates. In response, Sessions “simply smiled.”
Sessions’ focus lies with harder drugs: “It doesn’t mean that he feels in any way that he should be cutting any slack to marijuana,” Hickenlooper told Todd. But he interpreted Sessions’ comments to mean the drug enforcement priorities for the Department of Justice rest with substances such as heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine.
Hickenlooper came away encouraged: “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.”
Read the Cannabist’s breakdown of Hickenlooper’s comments and watch Chuck Todd’s conversation with the governor: