Colorado’s marijuana czar warns of possible Trump enforcement

Did you miss the webinar “Women Leaders in Cannabis: Shattering the Grass Ceiling?” Head to MJBiz YouTube to watch it now!

Colorado’s top marijuana regulator is sounding the alarm bells that President-elect Donald Trump’s administration could crack down on the state’s cannabis industry, warning such a move could throw thousands out of work and shutter many businesses.

“I think there’s very good reason to be concerned,” Andrew Freedman, Colorado’s director of marijuana coordination, told the Denver CBS affiliate. “It could become an enforcement priority overnight.”

It would be impossible to make adult-use marijuana illegal in Colorado because it’s in the state constitution. But federal authorities could render state law moot by issuing cease-and-desist orders against the governor and state regulators to halt Colorado’s seed-to-sale tracking system, Freedman said. The state also could be forced to stop granting marijuana business licenses.

“We’d no longer have state oversight of what’s going on,” Freedman told CBS 4, adding the situation could lead to at least 15,000 lost jobs and legal companies being forced out of business.

How would Gov. John Hickenlooper respond?

“I think the governor would be interested in making sure, to what extent he could be helpful at the table to – and again not as a pro-legalization – but even saying this is a very difficult thing to unwind and if you unwind it you might see a lot of unintended consequences along the way.”

While Trump’s pick for attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, is a vehement marijuana opponent, Congress could counter a crackdown with legislation.

For example, Congress in 2014 passed the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prohibits federal authorities from spending federal dollars to interfere with state medical marijuana programs. That same amendment currently is likely to be renewed by Congress, but the U.S. Senate must approve a spending bill to keep those protections in place until at least April 28.