Stan Garnett, the Trump administration and legal pot 

click to enlarge Garnett gets a seat at the table. - COURTESY STAN GARNETT
  • Courtesy Stan Garnett
  • Garnett gets a seat at the table.

A shocker of a headline appeared on a Daily Camera story this week: "Boulder DA Stan Garnett named to group that will advise Trump administration on pot."

Boulder County's liberal district attorney, the article went on to explain, is joining a committee of prosecutors from around the country "who will help advise the Donald Trump administration on policies regarding marijuana."

Turns out, that's a bit of stretch. But most of it is true.

The National District Attorneys Association has, in fact, "formed an internal working group made up of prosecutors from around the country to develop association policy on the subject of marijuana," according to Nelson O. Bunn Jr., the group's director of policy and government affairs.

"Upon completion of the working group discussions, policy positions will be released by the association," he said by email to the Indy, adding that, "the working group is not affiliated with any other organization or entity, including the incoming administration."

So the working group, made up of 14 current and former prosecutors, will devise marijuana policy positions, but there's no saying whether they'll be favorable to the legal industry, given prosecutors' traditionally negative stance on state laws that make it harder to lock people up. The inclusion of two Coloradans on the working group does bode well for more liberal perspectives to be taken into account. (Tom Raynes, executive director of the Colorado District Attorney's Council, who's not an acting prosecutor, is also a member.)

Garnett told the Camera he has already been a tempering force on the committee, having strongly advised against other DAs' proposal to send letters to all the governors of states with recreational or medical marijuana urging them to promptly shut down those businesses.

He also confirmed that although the group isn't in any way affiliated with the incoming administration, Sen. Jeff Sessions, whose nomination for Attorney General is pending, will likely receive whatever position papers the group comes up with.

Sessions' own opinion on the conflict between state and federal law in the realm of drug policy has been hard to ascertain. In the past, he's been quoted as saying that "good people don't smoke marijuana" and that he thought the KKK was all right until he found out they smoked pot. But, asked in a confirmation hearing about the Obama-era approach of leaving state-legal marijuana businesses alone, Sessions was vague.

"Using good judgment about how to handle these cases will be a responsibility of mine. I know it won't be an easy decision, but I will try to do my duty in a fair and just way," he responded. He later added, "I won't commit to never enforcing federal law."

So, here's to hoping Garnett gets through to him.


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