Colorado: No immediate change in marijuana prosecutions

Colorado: No immediate change in marijuana prosecutions
© Camille Fine

The U.S. attorney for the District of Colorado said Thursday that his office would not change how it prosecutes marijuana-related offenses, despite changes to federal guidance.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThose predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold The metaverse is coming — society should be wary MORE on Thursday rescinded Obama-era guidance that deprioritized marijuana-related prosecutions in states that have legalized the substance.

In a pointed statement, U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer said Colorado is "already" guided by the principle of focusing prosecutions on "the greatest safety threats to our communities around the state," according to The Associated Press. Colorado legalized marijuana use and possession in 2012.


“Today the Attorney General rescinded the Cole Memo on marijuana prosecutions, and directed that federal marijuana prosecution decisions be governed by the same principles that have long governed all of our prosecution decisions,” Troyer said in the statement.

“The United States Attorney’s Office in Colorado has already been guided by these principles in marijuana prosecutions – focusing in particular on identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our communities around the state," he continued.

Sessions abruptly moved on Thursday to rescind the so-called Cole memo, written by former Deputy Attorney General James Cole during the Obama administration, which discouraged U.S. attorneys from bringing charges for marijuana-related offenses in states that have legalized recreational use of the substance.

Sessions's memo rescinding the Obama-era guidance said, however, that federal prosecutors could decide how aggressively to pursue marijuana-related cases.

So far, six states have legalized pot for recreational use, including, most recently, California, which began allowing recreational marijuana on Monday. Dozens of states have approved marijuana for medical use.

Still, marijuana remains federally prohibited and is a Schedule 1 controlled substance — the same class as heroin and LSD.

Under the Obama administration, however, the Justice Department moved to discourage federal prosecutors from bringing charges in marijuana-related cases in states where it is legal, effectively allowing laws permitting recreational use of the substance to take effect.

Updated 2:22 p.m.