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Colorado's Pot Industry Could Be Targeted By Trump Administration

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4)- Colorado's Marijuana czar says fears that President-Elect Donald Trump will dismantle the state's pot industry are well founded.

"I think there's very good reason to be concerned," says Andrew Freedman, Director of Marijuana Coordination for the State of Colorado. "It could become an enforcement priority overnight."

Andrew Freedman
CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd interviews Andrew Freedman, Director of Marijuana Coordination for the State of Colorado. (credit: CBS)

Right now, the only thing keeping federal agents from raiding dispensaries and grow houses and arresting retailers and users are memos from the Department of Justice directing agents to make it a low priority.

But the next U.S. Attorney General has made it clear he thinks that's a mistake.

Marijuana Pot Plant Generic
(credit: CBS)

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions has said "We need grownups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that should not be legalized."

Jeff Sessions
U.S. Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Sessions has also singled-out Colorado, saying "Colorado was one of the leading states that started the movement suggesting marijuana is not dangerous."

While Sessions can't make marijuana illegal here -- it's in our state constitution -- he can order state regulators to stop issuing permits, for example.

RELATED STORIES: Marijuana Legalization Story Archive

"They could just say that they believe the regulators - myself and the governor - are aiding a federal felony and issue cease and desist orders - that means things like our point of sale tracking from seed to sale of marijuana. We'd no longer have state oversight of what's going on. But, it wouldn't mean you weren't allowed to possess and grow marijuana in the state of Colorado," says Freedman.

Marijuana Pot Generic Capitol Colorado
(credit: CBS)

He says uncertainty would likely drive the good actors out, creating a vacuum for the black market. And, with no state regulation, Freedman suggests it would be a free for all.

"I think the governor would be interested in making sure, to what extent he could be helpful at the table to - and again not as a pro-legalization - but even saying this is a very difficult thing to unwind and if you unwind it you might see a lot of unintended consequences along the way."

Marijuana Legal Medical Pot Generic
(credit: CBS)

Including he says the loss of at least 15,000 jobs here.

President Elect Donald Trump will have the final say.

While he hasn't been as out-spoken as Sessions, he's not a fan of legalized pot in Colorado, saying "It's bad. Medical marijuana is another thing. But I think it's bad and I feel strongly about that."

Growing Marijuana Legalization Pot Generic
(credit: CBS)

Congress could - and has previously - passed budget amendments that bar federal dollars from being used for pot enforcement. But, under new rules, it would have to pass a stand-alone bill now and the president-elect would have to sign it.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4's political specialist. She's a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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