You might think that marijuana advocates are sitting pretty in Colorado, home to the nation’s pilot legal recreational weed program which has given the state a half a billion dollars worth of revenue. But some 420-friendly activists are getting the jitters after a series of closed door meetings the Federal Department of Justice has been conducting with Colorado officials.
DOJ officials and other federal drug policy officials met with Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and several other cannabis-critical public servants and community leaders over the last week, as reported by The Gazette and The Cannabist.
Suthers has, according to The Gazette, “repeatedly said that recreational marijuana sales have no place in a city whose economy relies heavily on military spending, and that brands itself as Olympic City USA.”
According to Suthers, the purpose of the visit was to “find out what law enforcement and other regulatory agencies’ view is toward marijuana regulation in Colorado,” adding that federal officials were looking at the “nature and extent” of illegal marijuana activity in the area.
In addition to Suthers, DOJ officials spoke with members of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s staff, the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, and as well as other state regulator.
In Colorado Springs officials also spoke with several community leaders, all of whom have been openly critical to legalized marijuana. The purpose of these visits was to study “the impacts of cannabis on our city,” according to a city spokesperson. Among these leaders was Dr. Kenneth Finn, a physician who has previously given presentations to local officials about the health risks of cannabis use.
A detailed report of these visits has not been released and federal officials declined to comment on them to The Gazette.
The worry about these meetings is obvious. “It’s giving them the in to come after the industry – that’s the fear,” said Jason Warf, executive director of the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council, told The Gazette.
Especially worrying about this is that the officials are from the new, Jeff Sessions-led Justice Department. Sessions has been on record denying the health benefits of marijuana and expressing his desire to the ignore the Cole Memorandum which has for years protected the rights of state-sanctioned medical marijuana businesses.
Photo via Flickr user Sheila Sund