Colorado AG Hears ‘Contradictory’ Marijuana Approach With Trump, Sessions

Photo: Marijuana buds July 2015
Dried marijuana buds at a Colorado grower.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman says she still has questions about the Trump administration’s marijuana policy, after hearing from the nation's new top law enforcement officer on Tuesday in Washington. D.C.

According to Coffman, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions emphasized to a gathering of states' attorneys general that it’s still illegal to distribute marijuana across state lines, no matter what laws an individual state passes.

"If that’s true, it sounds like there is room for states to have legalization," Coffman told CPR News. "But what it seems to portend is the federal government will be at the borders to stop marijuana from crossing state lines.

"That’s a guess. Because, honestly, some of the statements are contradictory and seem broader than that. I had the impression from President Trump, when he was candidate Trump, that he was going to let the states make this decision. It seems to me that [Attorney] General Sessions is less inclined to do that," she said.

Colorado voters approved legalizing recreational marijuana with Amendment 64 in 2012. The law took effect in January 2014. Coffman, a Republican, says her staff will defend Colorado’s marijuana laws but added that it’s hard to prepare until the Trump administration makes its own approach clear.

“I think the most important statement [Sessions made] was that, ‘We don’t need to be legalizing marijuana,’ that we need to be doing more to fight all types of drugs. He spoke about heroin and the fact that there’s a rise in overdose deaths that reminds him of the '70s and '80s. That he’s prepared to crack down on drug usage and legalization as part of his charge as attorney general.

"I very much want to talk to them about coming to Colorado, so see what we have put in place and how our regulatory and enforcement scheme works," she said.

Editor's Note: This story was updated to amend an editing error with the placement of a sentence on Colorado's passing of Amendment 64, and to attribute the focus of Sessions' remarks to Coffman.