Officials in Colorado are attempting to protect residents in the event of a federal crackdown on state marijuana sales, pushing a bill baring local police from aiding federal agents in pot investigations.
A proposal passed through the state House with overwhelming support Wednesday aimed at protecting smokers who legally use marijuana under Colorado law. It comes amid national uncertainty regarding marijuana policy sparked by negative rhetoric from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recently ordered an internal review of the Department of Justice’s stance on recreational state pot laws, reports the Associated Press.
The legislation prevents any state law enforcement officers and any public employee from assisting federal agents in “arresting a Colorado citizen for committing an act that is a Colorado constitutional right.” The proposal does not specifically address concerns over marijuana, but was reportedly inspired by the uncertainty in Washington.
“I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store,” Sessions said in remarks March 15. “Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”
Sessions, a stanch opponent of legalization, is currently reviewing the Cole Memorandum, a set of guidelines established in 2013 that direct DOJ to focus marijuana enforcement efforts on violent crimes and distribution in states without legalization laws.
Legislation dubbed, “the Sessions safeguard,” passed the Colorado state Senate April 12. If federal law becomes adversarial toward recreational marijuana laws, the bill allows for a one-time legal reclassification of pot from recreational to medical, in order to prevent federal seizures in Colorado-based marijuana dispensaries.
It is unclear how aggressive the administration will ultimately be on the issue, but officials in states with legal weed want to ensure their voter-approved laws are protected.
Lawmakers in California are pushing similar legislation that would block local police and state sheriff’s departments from assisting federal agents in investigations of marijuana businesses compliant with the state law.
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