Published: Sat, April 14, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Trump and Gardner Strike Deal to Avoid Crackdown on Colorado Marijuana

Trump and Gardner Strike Deal to Avoid Crackdown on Colorado Marijuana

For the first time since the 2016 campaign, President Donald Trump has confirmed that he would support states' rights to regulate marijuana as they see fit, according to statements made by Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner who says he's spoken to the president on the issue.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is widely considered hostile to cannabis, and in January he rescinded an Obama-era memo assuring state-regulated marijuana dealers that federal prosecutors would leave them alone if they followed state regulations meant to keep pot out of the hands of kids and money out of the hands of drug cartels. States that have legalized recreational marijuana in recent years include such major jurisdictions as California, Colorado, Washington, and MA.

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. At least when it comes to these states' marijuana markets, it would no longer matter much whether the attorney general is a committed drug warrior like Sessions or a more moderate figure. Cory Gardner announced Friday that he had struck a deal with the Department of Justice to keep guidelines outlined in the Cole Memorandum in place.

During his campaign, Trump said states should be able to chart their own course on marijuana. Under Mr. Sessions's approach, USA attorneys in states where pot is legal were given approval to prosecute cases where they see fit. 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. In response to that decision, Rep. Gardner had vowed to block all nominees for Justice Department jobs.

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".

A bill has not been finalized, but Gardner has been talking quietly with other senators about a legislative fix that would, in effect, make clear that the federal government can not interfere with states that have voted to legalize marijuana. Gardner and the Department of Justice have been in discussions for months to get the holds lifted. "My colleagues and I are continuing to work diligently on a bipartisan legislative solution that can pass Congress and head to the President's desk to deliver on his campaign position". At a separate press conference, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that the President and Sen.

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