News and Commentary

Trump Won’t Take On Pot, Tells Senator The DOJ Will Be Hands Off In Colorado

Although United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been more aggressive, at least on paper, in prosecuting federal marijuana cases even in states where pot is legalized, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner says the president told him the DOJ won’t be intervening in any Colorado cases any time soon.

“Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states’ rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana,” Gardner said, according to The Washington Post. “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.”

But Gardner didn’t stop there: “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. Because of these commitments, I have informed the Administration that I will be lifting my remaining holds on Department of Justice nominees.”

That’s something legal marijuana advocates have been pushing for for a long time: a situation where federal law enforcement agencies would defer to state authorities over how to handle small-bore pot possession cases. It’s also a very popular position, even among Republicans, who still do not favor marijuana legalization across the board.

This is a major break for earlier administration statements, too. Previously, A.G. Sessions had been vocal about distancing himself and his agency from an Obama-era policy that kept the feds in a “hands off” position in states like Colorado and California. But Sessions never really followed up on that policy, and now the Administration seems to believe it’s in their best interest to take the same hands off policy, though using the Constitution, and not an Executive Order, as the excuse.