President Trump has pledged to at least one U.S. senator that the Department of Justice won’t interfere with Colorado’s marijuana laws or businesses, a sign that the administration will take a hands-off approach toward legal MJ companies.
According to The Denver Post, Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said Friday that he had received a commitment from Trump that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision in January to revoke several cannabis policy memos – including 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 told The Post.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Gardner’s account was accurate and the president supported states’ rights in the matter, the Associated Press reported.
Gardner had taken a stand against Sessions’ move in January, and has been holding up DOJ appointments as part of a standoff over federal cannabis policy. In addition, Gardner and 17 other senators signed a letter of support in February for states’ rights regarding marijuana legalization and regulation.
Due to Trump’s assurances, Gardner said he’ll end his blockade of appointments, The Post reported.
The news immediately drew praise from cannabis industry insiders.
“We are grateful to Sen. Gardner for standing up for the people of Colorado, as well as to President Trump for respecting states’ rights to adopt their own cannabis policies,” Mason Tvert, vice president of communications at Denver-based VS Strategies, said in a statement.
“We may now be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. This is one more step toward ending the irrational policy of marijuana prohibition, not only in Colorado, but throughout the country.”
The Trump White House has not yet articulated a specific policy with regard to marijuana.
That lack of clarity has contributed to industry speculation that the DOJ may try to crack down on the widespread U.S. cannabis trade, given marijuana’s ongoing status as an illegal Schedule 1 controlled substance, as opposed to the hands-off approach taken by the Obama administration.
But so far, Sessions has not taken any direct action against state-licensed marijuana companies, though he has repeatedly emphasized his disapproval of marijuana in general.
Trump himself has not said much about marijuana since taking office last year, but indicated during the 2016 presidential campaign that he believes marijuana legalization should be left to the states.
The only current federal law that has stopped the DOJ from prosecuting state-licensed medical marijuana companies is the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, which prohibits the DOJ from using federal funds to interfere with medical marijuana laws. There is no such protection yet in law for recreational marijuana companies.
The Rohrabacher Amendment is technically a temporary law that must be renewed on an annual basis, meaning there are no permanent protections yet for cannabis companies from federal prosecutors. Trump’s support for a new bill could help push permanent legislation through Congress sooner rather than later.
According to The Washington Post, Gardner “has been talking quietly with other senators about a legislative fix that would, in effect, make clear the federal government cannot interfere with states that have voted to legalize marijuana.”