U.S. Rep. Jared Polis joined congressmen from three three other states where recreational marijuana is legal to officially launch the Cannabis Caucus on Thursday.
The caucus aims to protect states that have already legalized marijuana from federal intervention and also make it easier for other local governments to decriminalize cannabis consumption. Polis, a Boulder Democrat, will co-chair the caucus with Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon; Dana Rohrabacher, R-California; and Don Young, R-Alaska.
“In Colorado, the initiative is a success,” Polis said. “Our test case proves that allowing responsible adults to use marijuana, if they choose, can help provide money for classrooms rather than cartels, creates jobs rather than creates addicts, puts drug dealers out of business and boosts our economy rather than our prison populations.”
Blumenauer said the caucus will focus on protecting states’ rights, making it easier to conduct marijuana research, allowing veterans to use marijuana for medical uses and changing tax and banking rules for marijuana businesses.
“These are areas that should not necessarily be partisan. They’re not complex. They’ll make a big difference for the industry,” he said. “People will be surprised by the number of folks in the weeks ahead that will join up to advance these bipartisan objectives.”
Polis and the congressmen said they don’t know how President Donald Trump or the newly appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions will respond to legalization. Sessions has previously made comments that indicate the drug should still be considered illegal to use.
“On the campaign trail, President Trump indicated he would defer to states with regard to marijuana,” Polis said. “We’re also aware of Jeff Sessions’ prior policy positions as a senator. We’re hoping given now that he works for the president, he’ll maintain those policy commitments that were made during the campaign.”
Polis said the caucus hopes to pass laws that will protect state-level marijuana laws from which side of the bed Sessions or any other attorney general wakes up on, on any given day.
“We’ll butt heads if we have to with the attorney general,” Young said. “We’ll do our jobs because it’s the right thing to do. And when you’re right, you get it done.”
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