GOP Lawmaker: Trump Administration Pledges Non-Interference In Legal Marijuana States

A SEPT. 20 2017 FILE

Sen. Cory Gardner was encouraged by Trump's announcement

Though pure speculation, Trump may be looking for a public-relations boost while embroiled in the ongoing investigation by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign to Trump's benefit.

A Republican senator says President Trump has promised to support legislation protecting the marijuana industry in states that have legalized the drug. In January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ended an Obama-era policy that limited federal prosecution of marijuana user and distributors in states that have legalized pot under their own state laws. Nine states have passed laws regulating marijuana use by adults.

"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", Gardner said in a statement Friday.

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The news seems to have been received with mixed reviews, with some in the cannabis industry celebrating it as a major victory, some taking a wait and see approach, and others pointing out that Jeff Sessions previously assured Senator Gardner that he would respect Colorado's legalization law just to go back on the pledge via the rescinding of the Cole memo, which is why Senator Gardner vowed to block DOJ nominees to begin with. Trump has a history of unreliabiility and it is not yet clear whether he will uphold his end of the bargain with Gardner. When states like Colorado passed ballot initiatives legalizing recreational marijuana, the government decided it wast time to update its policies.

Gardner said he is already set to unfreeze some of Trump's nominees. When he selected Sessions, a former federal prosecutor and US senator from Alabama, as his attorney general, marijuana supporters girded themselves for a crackdown. 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.

Gardner said Friday he is lifting the remaining holds on Justice Department nominees. "So we're reluctant to reward that sort of behavior". Congressman Jared Polis, who introduced a bill in March 2017 to de-schedule marijuana as a federally illegal substance, worked with Gardner and state representatives Ed Perlmutter and Diana DeGette to create a spending-bill amendment to restrict the DOJ from interfering with Colorado's legal pot industry. Gardner and the Department of Justice have been in discussions for months to get the holds lifted.

Senator Gardner reiterated that he and his colleagues "are continuing to work diligently on a bipartisan legislative solution (to the state/federal conflict) that can pass Congress and head to the President's desk".

The Washington Post first reported the agreement with the White House.

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