Colorado Sen. Gardner Says Trump Agreed to Protect his State’s Rights to Pot

Republican Cory Gardner after taking a Senate seat from Mark Udall in Denver, Colorado, November 4, 2014. (File image via Reuters)

Colorado’s Rep. Sen. Cory Gardner said that the U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to protect rights of his state on marijuana, ending a standoff with the Department of Justice, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

In response to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ clampdown in early January on states where marijuana is already legal like Colorado, Gardner held up about 20 Justice nominations.

Gardner blocking nominees from getting a Senate floor vote — the last major step before they can start work at the Department of Justice —  delayed the department from continuing its vital functions.

Gardner allowed some nominees to proceed in a “good-faith” gesture last month. But on Friday, he said he was fully releasing his holds on nominations.

Soon after California legalized the recreational use of marijuana on Jan. 1, Sessions rescinded an Obama-era policy, where it previously allowed U.S. states to freely operate their legal marijuana operations.

Gardner accused sessions – a Trump appointee – of  “lying” after promising that the federal government won’t tamper with the states’ rights over marijuana.

file 1 - Colorado Sen. Gardner Says Trump Agreed to Protect his State’s Rights to Pot
Sessions (R) and Gardner.

But Gardner said in a statement: “Since the [election] campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states’ rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana,” The Washington Post first reported the development on Friday.

He continued:

“Late Wednesday, I received a commitment from the President that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole memo will not impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry.”

He added:

“Because of these commitments, I have informed the Administration that I will be lifting my remaining holds on Department of Justice nominees.” 

White House Succumbed

The White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told the Washington Post on Friday: “Clearly, we’ve expressed our frustration with the delay with a lot of our nominees and feel that too often, senators hijack a nominee for a policy solution.”

Short further explained:

“So we’re reluctant to reward that sort of behavior. But at the same time, we’re anxious to get our team at the Department of Justice.”

Trump “does respect Colorado’s right to decide for themselves how to best approach this issue,” Short added.

Gardner Still Working

While Gardner won his battle against Sessions, he is continuing to further U.S. states’ protections from any federal interference but nothing has been finalized.

“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,” Gardner said in a statement.

However, it is not clear if the protections promised will apply to U.S. states where marijuana is legal.

There are eight U.S. states including D.C. where the recreational use of cannabis is legal. Medical marijuana is also legal in 29 other states. Banks stopped lending their services to pot establishment in these states following the federal crackdown by Sessions.

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