The War on Drugs Looks Like it May Return: Colorado House & Senate Split on Whether to Help

Colorado constitutional laws

(From the archives)

According to U.S. officials, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering revitalizing the war on drugs and instructing prosecutors to pursue the harshest possible charges against all levels of drug offenders. This may not come as a surprise given some of the AG’s previous statements concerning a possible crackdown.  The news created immediate ripples across the nation, especially in states looking to protect their constituents and marijuana business owners from changes in federal drug enforcement policies.

And if recent House and Senate votes are any indication, Colorado is torn on the best way to proceed.

Colorado House Takes a Stand to Protect Marijuana with HB 17-1331

At the end of April, the Colorado House voted 56-7 to prevent public employees from assisting federal agents in “arresting a Colorado citizen for committing an act that is a Colorado constitutional right.”

The proposal doesn’t specifically reference marijuana, but – according to the bill’s sponsors – it was designed with the potential federal crackdown in mind.

Federal agencies often rely on the active support of local law enforcement when it comes to making drug arrests. By withholding the aid of local law enforcement in making marijuana arrests, Colorado would have thrown a roadblock in front of federal agencies from arresting citizens abiding by Colorado law.

It’s nice to know House members are looking out for our interests and defending the laws residents voted for. And this legislation – or legislation like it – could play a role in protecting cannabis business owners and consumers from changes in federal marijuana law enforcement.

Colorado Senate Postpones the Bill

Despite an overwhelming House vote, the Colorado Senate decided on May 1, 2017 to postpone the bill indefinitely. Before postponing, the Senators discussed their concerns about the constitutionality of HB 17-1331 and how it might negatively affect interstate and interagency cooperation. They also added two amendments clarifying the bill’s language, which suggests the decision to postpone wasn’t as easy as the 5-0 vote might appear.

In the end, it doesn’t look like the Senate was opposed to the bill so much as they just weren’t ready to vote on it yet. This leaves local law enforcement free to assist the federal agencies should they choose to begin arresting and charging Colorado cannabis consumers and business owners.

Other legislation is currently being considered that would put in place certain protections and safeguards for marijuana business owners.

“Wait, so what does it all mean?”

We’re starting to get a clearer picture of where federal enforcement may be headed. It seems more and more likely (though still not guaranteed) that there will be an increase in federal marijuana enforcement. But we’re also seeing how quickly, decisively, and carefully Colorado legislators are responding to protect state laws, the cannabis industry, and consumers.

And that’s a pretty good reason to stay optimistic.

So as a consumer, the best thing you can do is stay informed and try not to worry. Brush up on (and follow) state and local marijuana laws and keep up to date on federal marijuana enforcement decisions. And double-check your pockets and car anytime you cross onto federal land to make sure you are not bringing any cannabis with you.

Karing Kind is Boulder’s First Recreational Marijuana Dispensary

We’ll continue to bring you updates on all the biggest marijuana news across the state and the nation. In the meantime, we invite you to stop by the store to say hello and browse our wide selection of bud, concentrates, and edibles.

Karing Kind is located just off of US-36, one mile north of Broadway, open daily from 9am to 10pm.

While we carry a variety of strains, concentrates, edibles, salves and tinctures, inventory and stock levels fluctuate from week to week. Check our menu and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for up-to-date details on edibles, concentrates and buds available now.