The Congressional budget deal that re-opened the federal government after a brief shutdown had one bright light for the medical marijuana industry. According to Marijuana Business Daily, the deal extended a budget amendment that blocks the Justice Department from spending any money that would "interfere with state marijuana laws or businesses."
SANTA FE — The New Mexico Legislature overhauled its policies against sexual harassment and misconduct this week, setting new standards for what constitutes harassment and adding outside oversight for investigations of lawmakers.
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.
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.
“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.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, said on Twitter Thursday he's "prepared to take all steps necessary" to block a reported move by Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversing federal policy that has has let states legalize recreational marijuana. His Democratic counterpart, Michael Bennet, said the decision will "create unnecessary chaos and confusion."
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Tuesday announced that Michael S. Hartman will be taking over as executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue at the end of the month. He's replacing Barbara Brohl, who said last month she would be stepping down after six years in the position.