After a slew of disturbing comments regarding marijuana coming out from long time prohibitionist Attorney General Jeff Sessions, 2 of Colorado’s congressional delegates (1 from each party) have decided to work together to protect the state’s marijuana laws. A few times this year, Sessions has given the impression that he would like there to be a crackdown on recreational marijuana. He even went so far as to call medical marijuana’s benefits overstated. His general lack of enthusiasm about marijuana combined with the position of power he holds over it has left many advocates throughout the country quite nervous.
Details of the Bipartisan Proposal
For this reason, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) have decided to sponsor the “Respect States and Citizens Rights Act of 2017.” This bill is similar in nature to one they attempted to pass in 2012 when Colorado first legalized marijuana. Their bill seeks to add a provision to the Controlled Substances Act that would stop federal officials from interfering with state law. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law and held as a Schedule I drug which is the highest risk drug category and therefore comes under the strictest laws. DeGette has spoken about the urgency in which action needs to be taken in order to protect state and individual rights in the face of federal interference now that Sessions is attorney general.
“An Obligation to Respect the Will of the People”
“While I have opposed the legalization of marijuana, the people of Colorado voted for an initiative in 2012 that legalized marijuana and placed it in our state’s constitution,” Coffman expressed in a statement. “Since this is clearly not a matter of interstate commerce, I believe that the people of Colorado had every right, under the U.S. Constitution, to decide this issue for themselves, and as their representative in Congress, I have an obligation to respect the will of the people of Colorado.”
The Road to Banking for Cannabusiness
Coffman and DeGette also supported Colorado senators Michael Bennet who is a Democrat and Republican Cory Gardner’s Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2017. This bill addresses the problems faced by many people who enter the marijuana industry. Banks will not do business with the marijuana industry out of fear of the potential legal ramifications. This bill, however, would allow banks to do business with marijuana industry people without there being risk involved. As it stands, banks face many potential legal issues in doing business with the marijuana industry. This means that the industry must operate only in cash which becomes extremely dangerous for stores to safely operate. Even taxes must be hand delivered as cash which is a complicated task for any business and may involve hiring a truck to personally deliver the cash.
Colorado lawmakers are working hard to create the best laws and industry. Gov. Hickenlooper even visited with Sessions himself to get a fair idea of what may be in store over the coming years. He was left with the sense that there would be no crackdown on recreational marijuana but it is still important for lawmakers to be sure that the right laws are in place to protect businesses and citizens alike.