Hickenlooper marijuana letter to attorney general defends state law, offers cooperation

DENVER -- Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions are at odds, but they are willing to work together.

Hickenlooper responded Thursday to a letter sent to him in July by Sessions.

Hickenlooper defended Colorado’s legalization of marijuana while also committing to work with federal prosecutors concerning marijuana crimes in the state.

The Thursday letter from Hickenlooper is in response to the Sessions letter that expressed concerns over the perceived dangers of marijuana legalization.

In July, Sessions pointed to federal government data from a report titled “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado” from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area .

That report found Colorado state trooper marijuana seizures increased 37 percent from 2013 to 2015, according to Sessions.

The letter went on to claim marijuana use among children in Colorado increased 20 percent since legalization. Sessions at the time asked Hickenlooper to address those issues and others.

On Thursday, Hickenlooper wrote to Sessions that multiple data sources indicate youth marijuana use in Colorado has remained stable since legalization.

The governor went on to write that the state has set aside $22 million to fund education prevention campaigns for children.

Hickenlooper also pointed to state statistics claiming impaired driving rates dropped 21 percent in the first half of 2017 compared to the same time frame last year.

While the two letters paint different pictures of legalization, Sessions and Hickenlooper expressed interest in cooperation on dismantling illegal drug trafficking networks and enhancing enforcement of current regulations.

With differing state and federal laws, what is unclear is how federal agent enforcement will compare to that of state trooper and local police officer enforcement.

To show Colorado is serious about prosecuting marijuana crimes, Hickenlooper reminded Sessions of the largest marijuana raid since legalization that occurred earlier this year and led to 74 people being indicted.