Published: Aug 24, 2017, 3:34 pm • Updated: Aug 24, 2017, 5:34 pm
Colorado’s marijuana regulatory system is a model for other states, and the fledgling program could become even more robust with the federal government’s support, the state’s governor and top law enforcement officer said in a letter sent Thursday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
In a five-page missive obtained by The Cannabist, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman responded to Sessions’ July 24 letter that raised “serious questions” about the state’s ability to regulate legal marijuana and prevent illegal activities.
“The State of Colorado has worked diligently to implement the will of our citizens and build a comprehensive regulatory and enforcement system that prioritizes public safety and public health,” Hickenlooper and Coffman wrote. “When abuses and unintended consequences materialize, the state has acted quickly to address any resulting harms.
“While our system has proven to be effective, we are constantly evaluating and seeking to strengthen our approach to regulation and enforcement.”
Sessions sent letters to the governors of Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington — the first four states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana — in response to a joint letter the four sent Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in early April.
In that initial correspondence, the governors implored the Justice and Treasury department to maintain existing marijuana enforcement guidelines, adding that an overhaul of the Cole Memo “is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences.” Likewise, they said scrapping the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network guidance would chill the ability for banks to serve marijuana-related businesses.
Sessions countered in letters to each of the four states that their respective regulatory systems were not effective in enforcing Cole Memo priorities such as keeping marijuana out of