Trump strikes deal with top Senate Republican to protect legalized marijuana states

Posted April 15, 2018

Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. Especially infuriating, from Gardner's perspective, was that Sessions had pledged during his confirmation process for attorney general that he would leave states that had legalized marijuana alone, according to the senator.

"We applaud this commitment from President Trump, who promised during his campaign to take a federalist approach with regard to marijuana policy", Altieri said in a statement.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders affirmed the accounts of the president's thinking of Gardner - but Sessions' reaction wasn't immediately known.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump broke with his party and supported giving states the right to set their own policies on marijuana. "I'm a states person, it should be up to the states, absolutely", he told a television interviewer in Colorado that year. "They've got a lot of problems going on right now in Colorado - some big problems", Trump said then.

Matt Fox, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates state control of marijuana laws, said this was a positive step in the short and long term - as a signal to Sessions to get more in line with Trump's previously-stated views on marijuana policy and as motivation for lawmakers to seriously tackle marijuana policy reform.

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After Trump selected Sessions, a former federal prosecutor and also US senator from Alabama, as his attorney general, bud fans girded for a crackdown.

Gardner talked about he was blindsided when Courses made his announcement in January referring to pot prosecutions.

Some of Gardner's fellow GOP senators groused at the impact of the hold, and Gardner allowed some nominees to proceed in a "good-faith" gesture last month.

"Because of these commitments, I have informed the Administration that I will be lifting my remaining holds on Department of Justice nominees", Gardner continued in the statement.

The New York Daily News reported Friday that the Justice Department had not been consulted before Trump made his phone call.

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Legislation to protect states where marijuana is legal is still being drafted.

A bill has not been finalized, but Gardner has been talking quietly with other senators about a legislative fix that would, in effect, make clear that the federal government can not interfere with states that have voted to legalize marijuana. Replacements of any of those officials would require new nominations.

Gardner's office is hopeful of getting enough bipartisan support for the bill to pass the GOP-controlled Congress - something the president's backing would aid. Gardner has met with Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the official overseeing the Russian Federation probe who has been the target of Trump's ire.

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