~ by Bud Price ~
Last Thursday morning (January 4), U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a move against legal marijuana.
Sessions decided to repeal the actions that have been taken by the federal government for the past five years. When some states including Colorado started voting to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, the Obama administration enacted a policy to leave the states alone.
In 2013 the Obama administration announced that it would not stand in the way of states that chose to legalize marijuana. The Deputy Attorney General at the time James M. Cole decided that the federal government would only step in to stop trafficking of marijuana in places that it was still illegal. The feds vowed to only intervene if marijuana was ending up in the hands of high profile gangs or children.
This all changed last Thursday with an abrupt action by Attorney General Sessions. Sessions officially announced that he is repealing the so called “Cole Memorandum” via Twitter. Sessions is now going to leave it up to the U.S. attorney in each state for them to decide how many resources should be put into regulating marijuana trade.
This move came to a surprise to many and some people such as Republican Senator Cory Gardner disagreed with Sessions’ decision. The Senator is currently working on a bill to present to congress that will use congressional power to ensure the state’s rights to have legal weed.
The action is not a big surprise seeing as how it is not the first move against marijuana laws Sessions has made since being appointed Attorney General. Sessions has been outspoken about his views against marijuana and his opinions that drug enforcement should be increased across the board.
He has made the decision also to reverse the previous administration’s policy to not go after high mandatory minimum sentences for low level drug offenders. Sessions has ordered federal prosecutors to go after the most serious charge possible for most suspects especially drug offenders.
The U.S. attorney for Colorado Bob Troyer made a public statement and said that federal enforcement in Colorado would not change pace at this time. He said that the policy the federal government has had in Colorado to only go after large illegal traffickers and manufacturers will not change. The feds will only use their resources to go after those that violate the state’s laws regarding marijuana.
However, Troyer landed his job when the previous Obama appointed U.S. attorney stepped down. If Trump appoints a new federal attorney for Colorado things could change.
Locally the legal marijuana business will not be affected by the policy change made by the Trump administration. Long ago the federal prosecutors in the states agreed that they would not go after medical marijuana operations as long as they abided by all of the state laws. According to Troyer, this policy will not change. Seeing as how there is only medical marijuana dispensaries allowed in Teller and El Paso Counties, local businesses will be able to operate as normal.
Attorney General Sessions and the Trump administration’s moves against legal marijuana have enraged both Republican and Democratic party leaders. All of the efforts through the years by many people to end the war on drugs were destroyed by a single tweet.
New Marijuana Laws In Colorado Starting In 2018
Starting January 1, 2018 the amount of plants a household can legally have was lowered. Before the law stated that any person could grow up to six plants with only three in the flowering stage for recreational purposes. Medical patients were allowed to have 12 plants or more in certain situations. The state house of representatives passed a bill that limits the number of plants that can be grown in one house in order to deter people from having large marijuana grow operations.
Before if five adults lived in one house, than they could legally grow six plants for every person over twenty one that lived there or thirty plants. Many of the large grows similar to this example were grow operations that were selling the marijuana out of state and were at times connected to large organized crime operations.
Now since the new law passed, a single household can only grow up to twelve plants for recreational purposes no matter how many adults live there. So, the rule still is six plants per person so if one person lives in a house they can legally have six plants and two or more people can have up to twelve.
There are some exceptions to this new law for certain medical marijuana patients. If the local government in the area allows it then in certain cases a MMJ patient can have up to a total of 24 marijuana plants. But the person must have a letter from their doctor explaining why they need the higher plant count and get permission from their local county and/or city governments.
The effects of this new law have already been seen locally. To start off the new year the Teller County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search warrant and made a number of arrests for growing marijuana illegally. Both of the sheriffs in El Paso and Teller Counties have made statements to the public that they will be aggressively cracking down on illegal marijuana grow operations. Now that the law restricts large grows no matter what, it will be much easier for the local law enforcement agencies to track down and arrest drug traffickers. If they suspect that someone is growing more than twelve plants then they can now serve a search warrant without having to be concerned about how many adults live inside the house.