Trump, Gardner Strike Marijuana Deal After Sessions Memo Fallout

Casey Dawson
April 14, 2018

California's fledgling recreational marijuana industry may soon be able to fully exhale after President Donald Trump indicated this week that he is willing to support federal legislation protecting legal cannabis businesses. Cory Gardner (R-CO), according to the Washing Post.

This new policy, not surprisingly, made folks who've been involved in medical marijuana in Arkansas and elsewhere nervous. He said he was going to block DOJ nominees until the Cole Memo, which protected legalized marijuana states, was reinstated.

In response to the administration's pledge, NORML Director Erik Altieri stated: "We applaud this commitment from President Trump, who promised during his campaign to take a federalist approach with regard to marijuana policy". "Furthermore, President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states' rights issue once and for all".

And we know that when the president makes a promise on policy, he always keeps it.

The Justice Department under former president Barack Obama created guardrails for federal prosecution of the sale and possession of cannabis, which remains illegal under federal law, and allowed legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country.

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Gardner held up about 20 Justice nominees, a significant number considering Senate Republicans and the White House have for months accused Democrats of slowing down consideration of other Trump picks. But those positions only accounted for six of 22 nominees Gardner had blocked, and he has since blocked a dozen more.

The president has frequently criticized Sessions, particularly over his decision to recuse himself from oversight of the federal investigation into potential collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russian Federation. During the presidential campaign, Trump said in an interview with KUSA-TV in Colorado that he said "it's up to the states" on the marijuana issue.

"Because of these commitments, I have informed the Administration that I will be lifting my remaining holds on Department of Justice nominees", Gardner said.

Democratic U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer of OR, another state with permissive marijuana laws, expressed skepticism, saying, "Trump changes his mind constantly".

There are now at least three bills under consideration which propose removing marijuana from the CSA's federal banned list or would allow states to legalize without fear of federal prosecution: the Marijuana Justice Act, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act and the Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act. Gardner met with Sessions in January shortly after that, but no discernible actions came from the meeting. Sessions and also Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the official supervising the Russian Federation probe that has been the aim of the ire of Trump has been met with by Gardner.

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