Ever since November 8th, marijuana-advocates everywhere have held their collective breath. They are waiting to see what the new administration will do with regard to cannabis legalization in Colorado, Washington and California, among others. Several members of the incoming administration have expressed displeasure with recreational marijuana, and a few – including the country’s leading law-enforcement officer, Attorney General of the United States Jefferey Beauregard Sessions – have even expressed doubts about medical marijuana.
So cannabis enthusiasts and entrepreneurs living in legal states have been waiting on pins and needles to see what would happen. It’s been a pretty demoralizing time.
However, there is hope on the horizon, and it appears that some states are gearing up for a fight. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper recently made comments suggesting that he believed there was a legal argument that could be made that would benefit the state, going so far as to imply that the federal government could not stop Colorado’s legalization efforts.
Others argue that the dollars and cents of the matter will hold sway in Washington. Given that Colorado and other states are raking in millions in tax revenues thanks to legal pot sales, it may not seem appropriate for an administration that prizes profits above most other things to try to squelch this newfound windfall. After all, tax dollars are short, and if you can get stoners to foot a bigger percentage of the budget, who could complain?
But Colorado’s state legislature is taking steps to help their citizens and business owners out. Recently, a bill was proposed in the state senate that would effectively allow licensed growers to reclassify their recreational crop as a medicinal crop. The change would hopefully allow growers in the state to continue to operate, as most consider the prospect of the feds leaning on medicinal marijuana to be relatively low. The bill is written such that growers could complete this reclassification almost simultaneously when any federal policy or law went into effect, further demonstrating the solidarity the state’s legislatures have with their citizens.
Remember that while recreational cannabis is perfectly legal in Colorado, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. This means that – theoretically – federal law enforcement officers could descend upon downtown Denver, arresting shop owners, staff and customers alike. Then, if they wished, they could move on to prosecuting the growers and others involved in the supply chain. So, the feds do have considerable force that can be brought to bear.
Hopefully, the moves made by the Colorado legislature will serve as a signal that the state is ready and willing to fight in defense of their citizen’s rights. This may preempt a show-down with the federal government, which may spur other states to engage in similar practices, and explore legalization legislation on their own. Only time will tell, but it sure is reassuring to have state lawmakers that are willing to stand up to the federal government and draw a line in the sand.