President Trump has promised to protect the marijuana industry in states where the drug is currently legal, potentially putting an end to the legislative limbo set in motion by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent rolling back of the Obama-era Cole Memo.
While on the campaign trail, presidential candidate Donald Trump pledged to respect the rights of states that legalized marijuana. He also called recreational pot “bad,” however, seemingly implying that he’d be open to the idea of stiffer regulations.
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While the legal marijuana industry has continued to boom since Trump took office, tensions within the industry increased further with Sessions’ decision in January to rescind the Obama-era policy of non-interference toward pot-friendly states. But while Sessions gave prosecutors the power to go after the pot industry, he stopped short of directing them to do so. And now, President Trump appears willing to support legislation that would block them from even considering it.
Some form of cannabis is now legal in 30 states, and more Americans — 64 percent — now support legalization than at any time in American history. Seemingly aware of the growing public support for cannabis, Trump recently pledged to Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado that he would support a federalism-based legal solution that would protect the drug in states where it is legal.
The pledge, which was verified by White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, came during a recent meeting between Gardner and Trump. Trump had previously singled out Colorado as having “some big problems” related to recreational weed, and those comments, coupled with Sessions’ actions in January — after Sessions had promised Gardner he would do nothing to interfere with the state’s legal weed market — prompted Gardner to make a deal with the president regarding the future of legal weed.
In exchange for the President Trump’s promise that he would protect pot-friendly states from federal interference, Gardner agree to lift his blockade on U.S. Department of Justice nominees — a move he made after Sessions’ move in January.
Gardner was pleased with the deal.
"President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states' rights issue once and for all," he said in a statement.
Legalization advocates are cautiously optimistic, as well.
“We may now be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Mason Tvert, who launched a 2012 ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana in Colorado, told the Associated Press. “This is one more step toward ending the irrational policy of marijuana prohibition, not only in Colorado but throughout the country.”
While Gardner plans to introduce bipartisan legislation that would block the federal government from interfering with state marijuana markets, there could still be cause for concern.
As we reported previously, Trump has hinted at replacing the prohibitionist Sessions with EPA head Scott Pruitt. If there’s anyone who’d like to crack down on legal weed more than Sessions, it’s him.
Stay tuned to the Sugar Leaf for updates.