Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said he doesn’t think the Trump
administration will crack down on states that have legalized
marijuana, following an hour-long conversation with Attorney
General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday.
Sessions “didn’t give me any reason to think that he’s
going to come down and try and put everyone out of
told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd following the meeting.
Marijuana is federally illegal, though
eight states have passed legislation to allow the
recreational use and sale of the plant.
The Trump administration has sent mixed signals about
whether or not they intend to crackdown on the burgeoning
Sean Spicer promised “greater
enforcement” of federal laws in February, and Sessions
himself has said that he’s “not
a fan” of the expanded use of marijuana, and that he’ll
enforce federal laws in an “appropriate
However, Sessions is a “pretty strong supporter of
states being laboratories of democracy,” Hickenlooper told
MSNBC’s Chuck Todd.
Hickenlooper added that Sessions has “got his hands full”
with the opioid crisis and other hard drugs— along with
implementing the Trump administration’s agenda on
Sessions reportedly told Hickenlooper toward the end of their
meeting, “you haven’t seen us cracking down, have you?”
The key takeaway is that Sessions is unlikely to enforce federal
laws against state-legal marijuana businesses,
Denver Post editorial board said, applauding Sessions for
taking the time to discuss the issue with Hickenlooper.
The Justice Department’s approach to marijuana is governed by the
Cole Memorandum, a 2013 directive from the Obama-era
which stipulates that the Justice Department
place a “low priority” on enforcing marijuana laws against
businesses and organizations that comply with state law.
Doug Friednash, Hickenlooper’s chief-of-staff, told The
Post that Sessions said the Cole Memo was “not too far from good
Sessions ordered the Justice Department to
review the memo earlier this month.
Hickenlooper, for his part, said state-legal marijuana
enterprises “better be absolutely clean” to avoid provoking the
Brian Vicente, a partner at the Denver-based law firm
Vicente Sederberg and one of the authors of Colorado’s amendment
to legalize marijuana, told Business Insider in March that he’s
advising his clients to “clamp down” on compliance, as Sessions
will likely go after “bad actors” in the industry.
“This sort of doubling-down on compliance will keep our
customers from falling within those crosshairs,” he