Trump to Gardner: Federal government won't target Colorado marijuana industry

Kenny Tucker
April 14, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is widely considered hostile to cannabis, and in January he rescinded an Obama-era memo assuring state-regulated marijuana dealers that federal prosecutors would leave them alone if they followed state regulations meant to keep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. "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".

Nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational pot, although not all of them regulate and permit retail sales. "Doing so would not only follow through one of Trump's campaign promises, but it would codify the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans".

Cory Gardner said Trump promised him over the phone Wednesday that a memo Sessions issued a year ago won't affect his home state.

In response to Sessions announcement, Gardner promised to block all DOJ nominees until he was assured that legal states like his would be protected from federal interference.

President Trump is going green - and Attorney General Sessions is likely seeing red. "I think that all of those things work together to protect public health and safety, but we have a provision now in our constitution, and we have statutes that carry this out, and we have regulations in our agencies".

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The January memo from Sessions stated that prosecutors should use their discretion in weighing whether charges were warranted, rather than abiding by the Obama-era guidance.

Many leading marijuana industry executives say they'd stopped worrying that Trump and Sessions were truly targeting their businesses. 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.

On Friday, Gardner said he would lift all holds on Department of Justice nominees.

Since January, Gardner has been holding up the approval of around 20 nominees and has treated the issue like a hostage negotiation, agreeing in February to allow a few nominees to be considered as a show of "good faith" to Sessions. Replacements of any of those officials would require new nominations. "But at the same time, we're anxious to get our team at the Department of Justice". 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.

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's office is hopeful of getting enough bipartisan support for the bill to pass the GOP-controlled Congress - something the president's backing would aid.

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