Published: Sat, April 14, 2018
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Trump agrees to leave state-legal marijuana programs alone

Trump agrees to leave state-legal marijuana programs alone

Though pure speculation, Trump may be looking for a public-relations boost while embroiled in the ongoing investigation by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign to Trump's benefit. As Gardner put it in a press release, "President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states' rights issue once and for all".

Gardner, who heads the campaign operation charged with hanging on to the Republicans' Senate majority, was irate in January when Sessions revoked guidance from the Obama administration, known as the Cole memo, that had discouraged prosecutors from enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that had legalized the drug.

Colorado, of course, blazed the recreational trail back in 2012, transforming the once black-market product into a billion-dollar industry and setting the groundwork for a slate of states that would soon follow suit - including California this year. Now, in a statement, he says Trump has promised him the Justice Department's new policy wouldn't impact Colorado.

Trump told Gardner in a call late Wednesday that the cannabis industry in Colorado will not be targeted, the Senator announced Friday.

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In January, the Colorado Republican said he would block all DOJ nominations after Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo that heightened the prospect of a federal marijuana crackdown in states that had legalized the substance. Trump has a history of unreliabiility and it is not yet clear whether he will uphold his end of the bargain with Gardner. Gardner voted to confirm Sessons' appointment to attorney general. Under 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 retaliation, Gardner used his power as a senator to prevent consideration of any nominees for the Department of Justice - an extraordinary step for a senator to use against an administration run by another member of his party.

On Friday, White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said, Trump "does respect Colorado's right to decide for themselves how to best approach this issue". "But at the same time, we're anxious to get our team at the Department of Justice".

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.

The Washington Post first reported the agreement with the White House.

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