Jeff Sessions Archives - Colorado Politics

Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 13, 20186min4302
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 […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 30, 20182min23841

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, 20185min279313

… 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, 20186min2070

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.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyJanuary 8, 20184min4491
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.