Trump strikes deal with top Senate Republican to protect legalized marijuana states

Glen Norman
April 14, 2018

Cory Gardner, a Republican, talked about he'd acquired an assurance from the president on the states' rights' scenario earlier this week.

But Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded that guidance, drawing a rebuke from Gardner and other lawmakers whose states have legalized marijuana.

Gardner noted that Trump had stated during his campaign that he had supported states' rights to decide how to approach marijuana. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., speaks to reporters in the Ohio Clock Corridor after the Senate Republicans' policy lunch on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. "Late Wednesday, I received a commitment from the President that the Department of Justice's rescission of the Cole memo will not impact Colorado's legal marijuana industry".

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


The announcement has potential implications for all states with or considering legalized marijuana, as Trump also said he would support legislative solutions to solidifying cannabis policy as a state-by-state issue, not a federal one.

Gardner called out both Sessions and Trump on the Senate floor shortly after Sessions announced his decision in January, evoking the president's past remarks on the campaign trail about states' rights while reminding the AG of their past discussions on the issue before the Senate confirmed Sessions in 2017. "I'm a states particular person, it must be as a lot because the states, utterly", he suggested a television interviewer in Colorado that 12 months.

Simply now, Gardner and Justice officers have been in discussions for months to get the holds lifted.

When Trump chosen Courses, a former federal prosecutor and US senator from Alabama, as his lawyer fundamental, marijuana supporters girded for a crackdown.


In a comment to the Washington Post on Friday, Trump's legislative affairs director, Marc Short said that the president, "does respect Colorado's right to decide for themselves how to best approach this issue", adding that he doesn't want this to seem like the president has caved to Gardner's demands, "we're reluctant to reward that sort of behavior".

Gardner met with Sessions in January shortly after that, but no discernible actions came from the meeting. In a statement, Gardner said Sessions was going back on his word and he pledged to put a hold on all DOJ nominees "until the attorney general lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation". "That campaign promise was not reflected by Trump's appointment of longtime marijuana prohibitionist Jeff Sessions to the position of Attorney General or any of the actions that Sessions has taken since becoming the nation's top law enforcement officer". Gardner has met with Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the official overseeing the Russian Federation probe who has been the target of Trump's ire.

The action came amid widespread speculation that Trump will remove Justice officials overseeing the Russian Federation investigation.


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