Donald Trump promised Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner that he will give his support to medical marijuana protections which forbid federal interference.
President Trump said he won’t go after marijuana businesses if they are compliant with their respective state laws. Trump and Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner talked on the phone when the President said that he would support efforts to protect states that have legalized recreational and medical cannabis, Gardner stated.
Gardner added that ever since the campaign, the President has invariably supported states’ rights to decide for themselves how to approach cannabis best. He also said that he received a commitment from Trump that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole memo won’t affect Colorado’s legal marijuana industry.
Moreover, the President has assured Gardner that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution in order to fix this state’s rights issue finally.
Gardner has been actively blocking the confirmations of all Justice Department nominees ever since Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole memo, an Obama administration federal policy directing prosecutors not to prioritize taking severe measures when it comes to cannabis states.
Colorado was the first U.S. state that legalized recreational hemp in 2014; Gardner, who represents Colorado, threatened to proceed with blocking the confirmations until the attorney general had given him his word that he wouldn’t enforce federal marijuana law. Satisfied after his talk with Trump, Gardner announced that he will stop holding back DOJ nominees.
Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary, confirmed that the discussion between the President and Gardner took place and that the deal was made just like Gardner described.
Even though the President’s promise to Gardner suggests that the medical marijuana industry will continue to grow without the worry of federal interference, some are still skeptical considering the anti-marijuana moves Sessions has taken during recent months.
Apart from eliminating the federal policy from the Obama era and thus directing federal prosecutors to apply federal marijuana law, Sessions has also urged prosecutors to push towards the death penalty in large-scale drug cases. Last year, he requested that Congress eliminate federal protections which prevent his DOJ from going after medical cannabis states.
In addition, just a few weeks back, the top health official from the Trump administration, U.S. Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar stated that there “really isn’t such thing as medicinal marijuana.”
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., co-founder of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said that they should hope for the best, but not take anything for granted. He added that Trump is known for constantly changing his mind and that the Republican leadership is still on their way.
Don Murphy, director of conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project, and other leaders in the marijuana industry cheered the recent developments.
Murphy said that the recent news should allow states to implement their legalization programs more comfortably. Also, lawmakers should use the news to pass comprehensive legislation that puts marijuana policy into the states’ hands permanently.
Looking For A Long-Term Solution
Colorado is one of nine states that have legalized recreational marijuana and one of 29 which legalized medical marijuana. Under federal law, cannabis is still prohibited, and it is classified as a Schedule I substance.
Attempts to address the state of Colorado and federal cannabis laws have been introduced; still, none are within Congress’s horizon. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker introduced the Marijuana Justice Act last year; the wide-reaching bill was supposed to end the federal prohibition on cannabis. In January, California Rep. Barbara Lee introduced legislation in the U.S. House which was to protect marijuana states from federal enforcement. However, neither of the bills have been sent to committee.
Gardner said that he was also working on a legislative solution. He and his colleagues continue to work diligently on a bipartisan legislative solution that could pass Congress and reach the President’s desk.