Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 13, 20186min4430
Blame Cory Gardner. Democrats have been doing that for a while, but now U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is down on the senator from Colorado, claiming the fellow Republican is using pot to trip up the Justice Department. On Tuesday Gardner wasn’t backing down. Gardner is blocking Trump nominees over Sessions’ decision in January to […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 30, 20182min2595

It’s usually a friend to the GOP, having endorsed Donald Trump for president in 2016, but the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest law-enforcement labor union, has come out swinging at Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. What’s the beef? Gardner’s vow to hold up nominees to the many vacant posts in the U.S. Justice Department after the Trump administration announced it was giving the department more leeway to crack down on pot-legalizing states like Colorado.

In a press statement released Friday, police union President Chuck Canterbury said the union’s rank and file “are disappointed and very frustrated” by Gardner’s vow:

“…(T)he fact that he believes Colorado can profit from the sale of this illegal drug does not give him the right to hold up or delay the appointment of critical personnel at the Justice Department. … Senator Gardner does a real disservice to the nation as a whole, and we urgently ask him to reconsider his rash and ill-advised obstructionism.”

In a parting shot, Canterbury added:

“The ability of the Justice Department to carry out its nationwide mission should not be compromised by a single senator trying to make it easier for business in his state to sell marijuana — an illegal drug as far as the federal government is concerned.”

The clash is ironic. Gardner personally had opposed the statewide ballot issue legalizing marijuana. Now, he’s staring down law-and-order types with whom he actually agrees on that core issue — in defense of another conservative tenet: states’ rights.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 15, 20185min28171

… along comes 5th Congressional District Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn — that uber-Republican from ultra-GOP El Paso County — and he breaks ranks.

Days after other Republicans as well as Democrats in Colorado’s D.C. delegation had sounded off with varying degrees of outrage at the U.S. attorney general’s renewed offensive against legal recreational marijuana, Lamborn’s office issued a statement by the six-term congressman on Friday that read in part:

“The federal government has the right and responsibility to uphold federal laws. I am encouraged by Attorney General Sessions’ revision of the Cole Memo. The Cole Memo was an effort by the Obama Administration to create laws by executive action through the Department of Justice, as it did with immigration, rather than to enforce laws duly passed by the legislative branch. …

… If we’re honest with ourselves, legalizing marijuana has been bad for the state of Colorado. I applaud Attorney General Sessions for upholding the law and recognizing the serious and proven harms associated with marijuana.”

Sessions announced earlier this month he and the Trump administration were backing away from a federal policy developed under the Obama administration — enunciated in the Cole Memo — that in effect had let states blaze their own paths on marijuana.  As Colorado Politics’s Ernest Luning reported the other day, both of Colorado’s U.S. senators — Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Cory Gardner — as well as U.S. House members from conservative Republican Scott Tipton on the Western Slope to liberal Democrat Diana DeGette in Denver bristled with indignation.

For the Colorado delegation’s Democrats, as well as Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and other party luminaries, pushing back is an easy call — another drum to beat in the “resistance” against Trump by the party that long has held a more tolerant view of pot anyway.

For Republicans, though, there are tradeoffs. The GOP for generations has been the real party of resistance when it comes to federal encroachment on state powers, a core value that dovetails with continued, broad public support for legalization.

And yet, the GOP is also historically the party of law and order, especially regarding the war on drugs — and the administration currently waging that war is Republican.

Which explains how Colorado’s Republican junior U.S. senator could be on one side, defending the “will of the voters” who legalized recreational pot:

…while Lamborn could be on the other, expressing not only support for the administration but also regret over Colorado’s voter-approved 2012 ballot issue. From his statement Friday:

The social costs of legalizing marijuana in Colorado have been steep, and the negative effects on children are particularly concerning. Since legalization, the number of calls to emergency poison control for children eight years and younger has tripled, thanks to the potency, attractiveness and availability of edibles. Youth arrests, particularly among minorities, have sharply increased. Homelessness is a rapidly growing concern. Rather than lessening criminal activity associated with marijuana, cartels have rushed into Colorado, resulting in 19 cartel operation busts in the last 18 months.

Of course, Lamborn doesn’t have to answer to all Colorado voters as Gardner must; the 5th district’s lopsidedly conservative, significantly military population is Lamborn’s constituency. And Colorado Springs itself is one Colorado city that has exercised its prerogative under the state  law to prohibit local retail marijuana sales.

Lamborn may be the odd man out in the state’s congressional delegation, but he’s hardly sticking his neck out back home.


Kelly SloanKelly SloanJanuary 10, 20186min342

Everyone, please, calm down. Deep breath. That’s it. Better? OK, so U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions certainly caused something of a political commotion in Colorado with his decision to rescind some Obama-era directives which basically told U.S. attorneys to ignore, or at least de-prioritize, certain federal laws concerning marijuana, easing the way for nascent marijuana industries to do their thing in states which legalized the drug.  He did this by issuing his own memo which told U.S. attorneys they are again afforded the flexibility to enforce federal law in the matter. Yes, yes, I know, it’s on the order of repealing the Bill of Rights, burning the Magna Carta, and reinstating the Ancien Regime all in one fell swoop. I get it.