As Brian Heuberger reported for the Colorado Statesman this week, there may be Republicans in Colorado willing to publicly support parts of the new administration’s agenda–but on the subject of Colorado’s legal marijuana industry, which is under direct threat from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, there is no daylight between Colorado Republicans and Democrats:
With U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions hinting that the Trump administration might intensify the enforcement of federal marijuana laws, Colorado leaders from both sides of the aisle have come to the defense of the state’s legal marijuana industry in an uncommon show of solidarity in what many consider to be divisive political times of unmatched proportion.
High-level Colorado politicians like Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper have both publicly defended what has become a lucrative recreational marijuana industry for the state. And many other state officials have joined them in contending that Colorado has a constitutional right to legalize marijuana and that the regulations established by the state have been statistically proven to have been effective so far.
Supporters are quick to emphasize the positive economic impact the industry has had in Colorado and the likely downward economic spiral that would occur should that now-bustling industry be tampered with by the federal government.
Rep. Mike Coffman is suggesting he might use the power of the purse to protect Colorado’s legal marijuana industry…
If Sessions does take action Coffman said he’d “have to fight the Attorney General on this.” He suggested he’d do so through congress’ power to appropriate money for the administration’s budget.
Colorado’s Republican attorney general, Cynthia Coffman—a legalization opponent who says she would defend state law against Sessions—speculated, “It sounds like there is room for states to have legalization … But what it seems to portend is the federal government will be at the borders to stop marijuana from crossing state lines.”
The reason why you have all of these public officials in both parties standing shoulder-to-shoulder on marijuana, despite the fact that most of them opposed legalization to begin with, is that the experience of legalized marijuana in Colorado has rendered the issue moot here. Public support has grown, not declined, since Colorado led the way into a legalization trend that has now grown to numerous states–including all-important California, the most populous state in the nation.
In short, on this issue, our local Republicans and Democrats are responding to the clear wishes of their constituents. They know that to join Sessions on a crusade against legal pot would be politically disastrous for Colorado Republicans at this point. And the fact is, if Sessions does decide to shut down Colorado’s billion-dollar legal marijuana industry and in the other legalized states, Republicans could pay dearly at the polls in the next election all over the country including Colorado–regardless of what local Republicans do to oppose it.
So be at least a bit reassured, stoners. For the moment, both parties have got your back.