Colorado feds won't follow Sessions' lead on prosecuting marijuana

Attorney-General Jeff Sessions gave federal attorneys the green light Thursday to prosecute marijuana activity even in states that have legalized it, but not all federal attorneys plan to comply.
By Rick Docksai | Jan 10, 2018
Attorney-General Jeff Sessions' Thursday announcement that federal attorneys can and should go after marijuana even in states where it is legal might not hold sway in Colorado after all. The Bob Troyer, U.S. attorney for the District of Colorado, said that his office is keeping its hands-off policy on marijuana as is, despite the new guidance from Washington.

Troyer said in a Thursday statement that Colorado's law enforcement will concentrate on prosecuting the criminal activities that pose the most serious dangers to the public. Marijuana users or dealers who don't threaten public safety will therefore remain a non-priority, he explained.

"The United States Attorney's Office in Colorado has already been guided by these principles in marijuana prosecutionsfocusing in particular on identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our communities around the state," he said.

Troyer was responding to Sessions' pronouncement earlier Thursday rescinding an Obama administration policy of tolerating marijuana use and production in states that have legalized the drug. Colorado and five other states have legalized marijuana, although federal law still officially prohibits marijuana in any state.

Sessions, a longstanding opponent of marijuana legalization, said that he authorizes federal attorneys to use federal law and go after marijuana growers even in the states that have made the drug legal. Power rests with each federal attorney on whether to follow through on this, however.

The pronouncement drew swift condemnations from several Republican lawmakers in the affected states, including Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who said that he will vote down any new nominee for a Justice Department post until Sessions reverses his Thursday pronouncement. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), whose state made recreational marijuana use legal just this year, called Sessions' suggestion "a gift to the cartels" who would step in if prosecutors shut down legal growers.

 

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