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Denver mayor calls AG Sessions ‘out of step’ over shifting federal pot policy

Author: Adam McCoy - January 8, 2018 - Updated: January 8, 2018

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (

With Denver reaping millions of dollars annually in sales tax revenue from recreational marijuana, and Colorado’s market representing a billion-dollar industry, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock called a shifting federal approach toward states with legalized marijuana irresponsible.

“This is a billion-dollar-plus industry here in Colorado, (with) thousands of jobs, and what this move has done is create uncertainty with regards to investors, business owners and employers,” Hancock said in an interview on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Friday.

“All this move does is demonstrate how out of step the Attorney General (Jeff) Sessions is and the administration is with the rest of the country,” Hancock said.

Hancock joined the furor over the U.S. Justice Department’s announcement on Thursday it would discontinue the Obama-era, hands-off approach toward states that have legalized cannabis.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew guidelines that essentially limited federal prosecutions of marijuana businesses or individuals operating legally under state law despite the federal prohibition, Politico reports. In last week’s announcement, Sessions said prosecutions would be left up to individual U.S. attorneys.

The policy change would be felt in the local marijuana industry through impacts on business investment and sales tax revenue more so than an enforcement crackdown, Hancock said.

“We’ve already had conversations with our attorney general, as well as our acting U.S. attorney, who clearly have said they’re not going to change anything with regards to the industry here in Colorado,” Hanckock told CNBC.

Colorado’s cannabis industry racked up $1 billion in sales in the first eight months of 2017, generating more than $160 million in taxes and fees. About two-thirds of Colorado’s more than 500 marijuana dispensaries are located in Denver, and the city estimates it collected about $18 million to $20 million in sales-tax revenue in 2017 — about 3 percent of the city’s budget — from legal sales of recreational cannabis. Hancock said the money is allocated toward funding law enforcement and youth education on cannabis.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Trump marijuana policy: It has given uncertainty in this billion-dollar industry from CNBC.

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.

One comment

  • Allen

    January 8, 2018 at 9:31 am

    Trump and Sessions’ marijuana policy hasn’t created the uncertainty. The Obama administration introduced the uncertainty by stating the clear federal laws would not be enforced.

    If it is the case that the majority of Americans think pot should be legal, then the fix should be pretty simple to get through Congress. Where is the proposed legislation to do so?

    Don’t complain about the AG doing his job and enforcing the law. Complain to your representatives.


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