Colorado Gov. Jared Polis called the possibility of a federal crackdown on legalized marijuana an “existential threat” to the cannabis industry in his state.
In an interview at POLITICO’s State Solutions Conference on Friday, Polis said there are no indications that the federal government plans to ramp up prosecution efforts against Colorado’s legal marijuana industry. If there were, the Democratic governor said, it would be “of great concern.”
“We support a regulatory approach to hemp just like any other crop,” said Polis, who showed off his business card, printed on hemp paper, during the interview.
Recreational marijuana use was made legal on a statewide basis in Colorado via a ballot measure in 2012, with much of the funding from the cannabis industry set aside for education spending in the state. The drug remains illegal based on federal law, putting otherwise legal operators in Colorado in constant jeopardy of being arrested by federal authorities. Such arrests were relatively rare under the administration of former President Barack Obama and have remained that way under President Donald Trump despite opposition to legalized marijuana by some top officials in his administration, including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Polis, a former Democratic congressman, campaigned last year on the promise to stand up to the Trump administration if it tried to interfere with legal cannabis in Colorado.
With two of the state’s politicians — former Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Michael Bennet — potentially preparing to join the already crowded Democratic presidential primary, Polis declined to speculate on their nationwide political chances except to say that “it would be amazing to have a president from Colorado.”