States Respond to Federal Marijuana Crackdown

With the current political discourse across the nation, “sanctuary cities” have become a term with which we have all gotten familiar. While the concept of “sanctuary states” may seem linked to the immigration debate underlying the more familiar term, the meaning is actually turning out to be quite different. According to an article from Denver’s Fox-31, several states that have legalized recreational marijuana use are considering creating “sanctuary state” status for their state when it comes to a potential federal crackdown against increasingly liberal recreational marijuana policies at the state level.

What do the States Have to Say?

Much of the state-level discourse has ramped up in recent months after almost a year of speculation led to the first major policy statement on recreational marijuana from the current administration. The prior administration took a hands-off approach to enforcement of marijuana-related laws in states that had elected to legalize such use. However, in January of this year, the new administration indicated that federal prosecutors were free to use their discretion in pursuing such cases.

Berkeley, California has begun leading the way in the movement to curtail any federal efforts aimed at regulating the recreational marijuana industry. According to the article, several states may soon follow suit. Alaska, California, and Massachusetts are all reportedly considering legislation that would preempt state-level cooperation with the federal government.

While the article indicates that the current administration’s approach has shaken an industry still growing in Colorado and poised to grow in the handful of states that have elected to legalize recreational marijuana since Colorado did, there is little evidence of any immediate effects. While some law enforcement officials indicate that they would rather focus their resources on the opioid crisis gripping the nation, others believe the two issues may be linked.

How Will Colorado Respond?

Colorado’s specific strategy in handling a potential federal crackdown on recreational marijuana has yet to gain much public traction, though the state is certainly weighing its options in how to approach any new policy changes from the current administration. While legalization of recreational marijuana has certainly come with issues, there is no denying that it has provided a significant boost to the state’s coffers from both taxes and tourism since its legalization. Any far-reaching and dramatic policy shifts from the current administration could have a significant impact on state budgets where recreational marijuana has gained a strong foothold and extensive support that seems to be increasing.

Some sources provide some insight into future responses, with quotes from gubernatorial candidates indicating that the federal government will have to look elsewhere for enforcement support should those candidates be elected. Time will tell how the state will approach a potential federal clash, though with few Coloradans regretting their choice to vote for legalization of recreational marijuana, it is unlikely the state will simply fall into line.

How can You Approach Marijuana-Related Charges?

Even with legalized recreational marijuana, it is still possible to run afoul of important federal, state, and local statutes regulating the use, sale, and possession of marijuana and/or related products. Doing so can result in serious consequences if you are charged and convicted with a marijuana-related crime. If you are facing marijuana-related charges, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to begin understanding how our team can work with you to make sure that you do not have to face your charges alone.

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(image courtesy of David Everett Strickler)