Colorado officials have come forward to reveal more details over the secret marijuana enforcement meetings held over the past few days between local, state and federal officials.
Earlier this week, KKTV 11 News and the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that the Department of Justice, the DEA and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) were meeting with Colorado officials to discuss “sensitive investigative information” pertaining marijuana.
Although Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, who attended one of the meetings, eventually said that “most of the discussion centered around the huge black market that exists for marijuana in Colorado,” there was some speculation that these little governmental pow-wows actually centered on the highly publicized, yet still unconfirmed, federal pot crackdown that the Justice Department has teased since Trump, and subsequently Jeff Sessions, took office earlier this year.
However, an interview with Mark Bolton, Governor Hickenlooper’s chief marijuana adviser, published yesterday by The Cannabist seems to suggest that the meetings had less to do with the pending demise of the cannabis trade and more with educating the federal government on what all of this legal marijuana business is really about.
In the report, Bolton, who attended the “secret meetings,” said federal drug agencies were in the area as a direct result of Governor Hickenlooper asking Attorney General Sessions earlier this year to visit Colorado in an effort to learn more about statewide legalization.
“Our purpose was to convey to them the strength of our regulatory system and our enforcement system and our policies and practices,” Bolton said. “I think (the federal officials) viewed this as an educational opportunity.”
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman also confirmed that the meetings were related to the federal government being invited to see first hand how Colorado was handling legal marijuana.
“The meeting focused on sharing Colorado’s experience creating and executing a robust and effective regulatory and enforcement system, and our continuing efforts to protect public health and public safety,” Coffman wrote in a joint statement with Hickenlooper’s office. “Our conversation with the federal delegation was productive and we look forward to continued collaboration.”
However, it was revealed in an article published yesterday by U.S. News & World Report that Justice Department attorney Michael Murray attended the meetings. Murray, who is heading up the federal marijuana review that was requested by Attorney General Sessions earlier this year, was apparently there in a capacity “directly related to the ongoing federal pot policy review,” the news source reported.
Yet, Bolton says he was “unaware” that the meetings had anything to do with federal policy.
Interestingly, it does not appear that federal officials are speaking with any other legal marijuana states.
The Cannabist reportedly reached out to Oregon and Washington to find out whether they, too, were meeting with the federal government to discuss marijuana. Officials in both states said they were not involved.