After news broke earlier this week that Attorney General Jeff Session has rescinded the Cole Memo, changing how the government enforces federal marijuana laws, Gov. John Hickenlooper told CNN Saturday that he didn’t see how the move would help the Trump administration.
“I’m not sure I see what benefit there is to the Trump administration or the Department of Justice by flaunting the will — the votes — of more than two-thirds of Americans,” Hickenlooper told CNN’s Michael Smerconish.
The move will reportedly leave it up to individual U.S. state attorneys to determine how aggressively to enforce federal marijuana laws.
The Democrat said Sessions had previously assured him that the Justice Department had limited resources and higher priorities, such as heroin use and sex trafficking. As long as dispensaries and growers were obeying local lawyers, Hickenlooper’s impression was that the federal government wouldn’t pursue them.
Hickenlooper told Smerconish that Congress and states should be working together, especially to ensure the use of banking in the marijuana industry.
“Banks are as skittish as a young colt,” he said. “I’m afraid they’re going to spook some of these banks out of the business completely and then we’re in an all-cash business. That’s a way to get more cartels and underworld activity.”
The governor pointed to an American Journal of Public Health study that found a reduction of opioid overdose deaths after the legalization of marijuana. He also noted that the best way to prevent teens from using the drug is to target the black market.
“The old system was certainly not a great system,” he said. “We sent millions of kids, mostly Latinos and African Americans, we sent millions of kids to prison for non-violent crimes. Maybe this system (of legalization) has the potential. Maybe it’s not yet. We’re continuing to improve it every year. Maybe this is a better approach long term.”