The Cortez City Council has signed on to a letter sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions voicing concern about recent changes to federal policies regarding marijuana.
Cortez Mayor Karen Sheek tells KSJD the letter was signed by numerous other local elected officials across the country. It was sent in mid-January after Sessions announced he was rescinding the so-called Cole Memo. That was a Department of Justice document created during the Obama administration that said U.S. attorneys would generally not seek to prosecute cannabis businesses that were operating legally under their states’ laws. Recreational marijuana is now legal in nine states, including Colorado, and medical cannabis is legal in many more. However, the substance remains illegal under federal law. The letter says revoking the Cole memo threatens safeguards designed to regulate legitimate, state-approved marijuana businesses. It says Sessions’ action also creates chaos and uncertainty for local governments such as Cortez where marijuana is legal. It calls for a national, bipartisan task force to align federal and state policies regarding marijuana. Sheek says she believes this is a states’ rights issue. She says based on conversations she has had with Cortez Police Chief Roy Lane and city staff, Cortez is doing a good job of overseeing the city’s pot operations. Sheek says all members of the city council supported sending the letter.