Trump Makes Commitment to Protect State-Legal Cannabis Programs

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) released a statement on April 13 that he has obtained a commitment from President Trump that Department of Justice will not target Colorado’s (and presumably other states’) legal recreational marijuana industry. As you may recall, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum in January that effectively rescinded the Cole Memorandum, and gave individual US Attorneys the discretion to pursue state-legalized recreational marijuana businesses. Pursuant to the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, the federal government is already restricted from devoting resources to prosecute medical marijuana businesses that are in compliance with state law. In response, Senator Gardner put a senatorial hold on approximately 20 of Trump’s Justice Department nominees, freezing the approval process for these nominees.

According to Senator Gardner, in a phone call last week President Trump assured Gardner that the Colorado recreational marijuana industry would not be targeted. Based on this assurance, Senator Gardner is allowing the DOJ nominees to move forward. Also, Senator Gardner stated that “President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.” Senator Gardner indicated that he is working with colleagues on a bipartisan legislative solution to embody this notion of federal non-interference with states that have legalized marijuana.

Whether Trump will follow through with his assurances remains to be seen, as he has a pattern for reversing positions and commitments. Also, this commitment may be nothing more than Trump expressing his continuing displeasure with Attorney General Sessions.