Colorado State Senator Jerry Sonnenberg's comments are the most forceful Republican pushback against the White House on the issue since the announcement Thursday that the Trump administration could be enforcing federal marijuana laws in legalized states. (Joe Amon, Denver Post file)

Trump won’t “turn his back” on Colorado pot laws, GOP lawmaker says

A top Republican lawmaker in Colorado is casting doubt on whether Donald Trump’s administration will crack down on the legalization of marijuana, saying the new president wouldn’t “turn his back” on state’s rights.

Colorado Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican and a Trump supporter, reacted after the statement from White House spokesman Sean Spicer that recreational pot will face “greater enforcement.”

“I’m not sure I’d put too much thought or too much credit into what he was saying,” Sonnenberg told reporters Monday morning. “This president has been all about federalism and giving the states more authority, this just flies in the face of that. So I would anticipate not much coming from that.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper downplayed the suggestion a day earlier in a “Meet the Press” interview, affirming that he didn’t believe the federal government would target states like Colorado that legalized weed.

Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner has suggested a change in federal policy toward states on marijuana is unlikely, but Sonnenberg’s comments are the most forceful Republican push back against the White House on the issue since the announcement Thursday.

“Colorado has been the leader when it comes to marijuana and the regulation,” he said. “People look to us for leadership, and I don’t think our new president will turn his back on allowing states to do what they need to do, whether (marijuana) or anything else.”

In the TV interview Sunday, Hickenlooper suggested that even though he opposed Amendment 64, he is moving closer to supporting legalized pot. But Sonnenberg disputed that there is a shift in public opinion on the issue — even though Republican lawmakers are sponsoring various bills related to easing marijuana rules in Colorado.

“The vast majority of the people who supported marijuana continue to support it and the vast majority of the those that hated it in the beginning, still hate it,” he said.

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