“At that point I realized that there was an ally in the president on [cannabis legalization].”
How does Trump really feel about cannabis legalization in the United States? A private conversation between Donald Trump and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner may reveal the answer. According to Gardner, he spoke with Trump the day the Justice Department announced its crackdown on state cannabis laws.
“This return to the rule of law is also a return of trust and local control to federal prosecutors who know where and how to deploy Justice Department resources most effectively to reduce violent crime, stem the tide of the drug crisis, and dismantle criminal gangs,” said a January 4, 2018 memo entitled, “Justice Department Issues Memo on Marijuana Enforcement”.
The memo essentially rescinded the so-called Cole memo from Obama’s administration. That directive ensured federal agencies would not to interfere with state laws regarding cannabis use. Currently, 33 states in the US have legalized cannabis for medical use and 10 states have legalized cannabis for adult use.
When Gardner talked about his opposition to rescinding the Cole memo, Trump reportedly interrupted Gardner. Trump said, “We need undo this” and “[Sessions] needs to stop this.”
“It was very clear to me at that point that there was a disagreement between the president and the attorney general on this,” Gardner said.
“At that point I realized that there was an ally in the president on this,” he said.
Cannabis Legalization Bill Would Have Been a Loophole for States
Gardner along with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Entrusting States (STATES) bill. It would essentially legalize cannabis federally in any state that moved to legalize cannabis. Gardner began blocking Justice Department appointments until he got Trump’s support for the bill. Trump said he would support it, but the bill was eventually blocked in Congress.
“That was the commitment from the president not only on showing that he’s going to disagree with Jeff Sessions, but actually saying, ‘don’t worry about what he’s done because it won’t impact Colorado,’ and then moving forward down for a solution,” Gardner said.
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