Denver, the first major US city to see recreational marijuana be sold legally, is bracing for any possible federal interference under the Trump Administration. Jeff Sessions, as US Attorney General, has remained against marijuana legalization in both medical and recreational forms.
Just last week, a letter written by AG Sessions to Congress was slipped to Massroots and was verified by the Washington Post. The letter asked Congress not to renew the protections known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment binds the Department of Justice (DOJ) – headed by the Attorney General – from using any DOJ funds to pursue medical marijuana patients, businesses, or laws. Congress renewed the amendment despite his plea, leaving recreational marijuana as a target unprotected in the crosshairs of a DOJ confusingly bent on bringing back the war on drugs.
Here is how Denver plans to protect their marijuana industry:
State authorities cannot aid federal authorities
The first of three measures taken by lawmakers in Denver, CO to protect their marijuana industry would prohibit state agency or political subdivision (such as a city or county government in Colorado) from arresting any person for performing an act which is protected under Colorado’s constitution until such a time when legal marijuana has been proven to be unconstitutional.
The “Protect Colorado Constitutional Rights Act” is not only bold, it is a direct move to limit the reach of the federal government into the rights of Colorado residents and voters. The bill passed through the House in late April 2017 only to die in the Senate. The measure would have asked law enforcement and other government employees to break federal law by obstructing drug enforcement efforts from the federal government, which is less than ideal – but hey, public service and all.
Recreational dispensaries can become medical immediately
As the Department of Justice, lead by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is restricted from using federal funds to pursue medical marijuana patients, caregivers, or dispensary locations for this year at least, Denver expects to protect their marijuana industry by creating a single-time license transfer. The new license would go into effect immediately.
By allowing recreational marijuana dispensaries to transfer their license from recreational sales to medical, Senate Bill 192 (also known as the “Marijuana Business Efficiency Measures Act”) would allow companies in the recreational marijuana industry to protect their business under the same Rohrabacher-Farr amendment Jeff Sessions had asked Congress to remove. This allows for the nearly 1,500 retail dispensaries, cultivation sites, product manufacturers, and testing facilities to remain open while also protecting them from a complete shutdown/ raid style end to their business.
SB 192 was passed and signed into law in early June 2017.
Arrests for marijuana following 2012 become sealed
In order to prevent any sort of backslide into criminally penalizing the future of Colorado residents, House Bill 1266 passed both chambers of Congress and was signed into law in early May 2017. Through the new law, Denver hoped to protect their residents and marijuana industry. As is often the case, a misdemeanor drug charge can prevent people from finding employment, a place to live, scholarships, financial aid, and even loans. By allowing adults to petition to have these records sealed ($65 fee), Colorado is giving their residents an opportunity to move passed their conviction in a way which limits future opportunities the least.
With so much confusion surrounding the Trump Administration’s position on marijuana, only time will tell if Denver has done enough to protect their marijuana industry from the feds.