Colorado US Attorney Jason Dunn’s Comments on Cannabis at Recent Symposium


Sean McAllister participated in a cannabis law symposium yesterday, which included newly appointed Colorado U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn. Sean gave a speech about the options for financing cannabis companies without bank loans and Sean had a chance to interact with Mr. Dunn during the event, see the attached photo. Mr. Dunn laid out his approach to the enforcement of federal marijuana laws in Colorado. He explained the following:

  1. Mr. Dunn explained that he expects President Trump’s appointee for U.S. Attorney General, William Barr, will be approved by the Senate “any day now.” Mr. Barr has stated that he won’t go after state compliant marijuana businesses and he won’t issue a new Cole memo. Mr. Dunn expects those will be his marching orders.
  2. He will be making prosecutorial decisions based on limited department resources of his department in light of their priorities with marijuana law.
  3. He plans to focus on methamphetamine and opioid cases.
  4. He stated the priorities in the Cole memo represent the right direction and reflect many of his priorities, but he explicitly declined to say he would be strictly following the Cole memo. Mr. Dunn stated his office would be focused on money laundering related to illegal marijuana trafficking, such as folks who buy homes using cash from illicit transactions. He said his office will be focused on folks that are doing out of state sales. He said he has an obligation to stem that tide of illicit distribution to sister states where marijuana is not legal.
  5. He stated that state legal businesses engaged in looping, or intentionally seeking to skirt the rules, are black market operators.
  6. He stated that if a licensed operator is not doing enough to prevent sales to minors or is marketing to minors, they could be a target.
  7. He stated that his office would focus on state licensees who are fronts for other illegal operations (like money laundering other drug money).
  8. He stated he is also concerned about concentrates and he’s concerned about public health impacts of concentrates.
  9. Finally, as far as the pending bill in the Colorado legislature to allow public company ownership of cannabis companies, he’s concerned about the potential impacts of this on public safety. He wants to know how we know if investments are fronts for criminals and how effectively Colorado regulate this.

While some of these statements are concerning, overall Mr. Dunn’s comments should give some comfort to state legal cannabis businesses who are compliant with state laws. If you have any questions about Mr. Dunn’s statements, feel free to Sean McAllister at today.