“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.