Trump and Gardner strike deal to avoid crackdown on Colorado marijuana

Trump Promised Senator No Federal Crackdown On Legal Weed, But Who Even Knows
Trump signals DOJ taking more hands-off approach to marijuana prosecution
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16 April, 2018

Trump's promise to the Senator diffuses the standoff that's been taking place between Gardner and nominees for the Justice Department.

While many states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana use, the drug is still illegal under federal law, which created a conflict between federal and state law.

Gardner and others were concerned that it could lead to federal agents taking enforcement actions against dispensaries and other businesses that are legal under Colorado state law.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that the president had made such commitments to Gardner, when asked at Friday's press briefing.

Gardner said he had lifted some holds earlier this year after "positive discussions with the DOJ" but that with Trump's assurances, he would be lifting all remaining ones.

Mr. Trump offered qualified support for legalization while on the presidential campaign trail, saying that medical marijuana "should happen" and that laws regarding recreational usage should be left in the hands of the states. Now, in a statement, he says Trump has promised him the Justice Department's new policy wouldn't impact Colorado.

Sessions on January 4 rescinded a policy begun under Democratic former President Barack Obama that had eased enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that legalized it.

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"Clearly, we've expressed our frustration with the delay with a lot of our nominees and feel that too often, senators hijack a nominee for a policy solution", White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told the press Friday. Especially infuriating, from Gardner's perspective, was that Sessions had pledged during his confirmation process for attorney general that he would leave states that had legalized marijuana alone, according to the senator.

"Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states' rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana", said Gardner.

The January memo from Sessions stated that prosecutors should use their discretion in weighing whether charges were warranted, rather than abiding by the Obama-era guidance.

Since then, he has held up about 20 Justice Department nominations.

Sessions has long criticized efforts to legalize marijuana.

Earlier this week former house speaker John A. Boehner said he is joining an advisory board for a cannabis company, Acreage Holdings.


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