Trump, Colorado senator, make deal on pot enforcement policy

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. (center) speaks at the weekly leadership press conference about roundtables he held in Colorado focused on the opioid crisis. Gardner said he would lift his hold on Department of Justice nominees Friday due to a promise from President Donald Trump that rescission of the Cole memo won't impact Colorado's rights as a legalized marijuana state. Screen shot: Sen. Cory Gardner/Facebook

April 15 (UPI) — President Donald Trump has promised to honor state decisions to legalize marijuana, ending a Colorado senator’s hold-up of Department of Justice nominees.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., took issue with Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinding the Cole Memorandum in January. With state laws in legalized marijuana states conflicting with federal laws, the Obama-era Cole memo had essentially directed U.S. attorneys to treat marijuana businesses operating “in clear and unambiguous compliance” with state marijuana laws as a low enforcement priority.

Gardner said in a statement Friday that after Session’s actions, he decided to block all DOJ nominees pending a commitment from Trump that the policy change would not violate Colorado’s rights.

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

Gardner added that he would lift his remaining holds on DOJ nominees and said he hopes to pass legislation to address the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws.

“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.

The Washington Post first reported on the development.

“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,” White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told the Post on Friday. “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.”

Gardner has held up about 20 justice nominations, the Post reported.


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