DENVER (CBS4) – Comments made by Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions this week about marijuana are sending shockwaves through states like Colorado where the drug is legal.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held two days of confirmation hearings for Sessions, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for attorney general. When asked about marijuana legalization, Sessions offered little clarity on what actions he would take. He said he wouldn’t rule out prosecuting states where it’s legal and indicated he’d rely on federal law to do so.
“It’s not so much the attorney general’s job to decide what laws to enforce,” said Sessions, who is an outspoken opponent of marijuana in all forms.
While several new states have just legalized recreational marijuana and are now working on enforcement, Colorado is trying to improve its existing legalization laws.
Longmont Democrat Rep. Jonathan Singer helped craft many of the state’s marijuana regulations and told CBS4 he’s “worried about what a Jeff Sessions attorney general is going to look like.”
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This year, the Colorado legislature is looking to legislate so-called marijuana clubs and tighten laws to prevent legal grows from selling onto the black market.
Singer says all of that is now in jeopardy with Sessions poised to become the nation’s top law enforcement official.
“It puts a cloud over the entire session until we can figure out whether or not he’s confirmed,” Singer said.
Tom Downey, Denver’s former director of excise and licensing, says Sessions is putting Trump’s pro-jobs position at risk.
“It’s not just the direct industry that is threatened, it is everything around it,” he said.
Downey says by not clearly answering how he’d handle legalized pot, Sessions is constricting the states that already have it and threatening a repeal that would cut deeply into the economy.
“Folks in the industry don’t know. Folks who are lending money don’t know. Imagine being a landlord today,” Downey said.
While he was campaigning for president, Trump said he would not interfere with states that have legalized marijuana. Many are now wondering if that’s a promise he’ll keep.