Trump strikes deal with top Senate Republican to protect legalized marijuana states
- Author: Joey Payne Apr 16, 2018,
Apr 16, 2018, 1:44
Mr. Gardner said that as a result of Mr. Trump's assurances he'll end a blockade of Justice Department nominees. In doing so, Sessions, who has taken a hard line against marijuana, gave federal prosecutors wide latitude to pursue criminal charges.
Although marijuana remains illegal at the federal legal, nine states - including MA - have legalized small amounts of the drug for adult recreational use, according to Business Insider.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that the president had made such commitments to Gardner, when asked at Friday's press briefing.
Gardner said he had earlier allowed some Justice Department nominations to proceed after having "positive discussions" with the department, and will now allow the remaining blocked nominations to move forward.
Trump offered qualified support for legalisation while on the presidential campaign trail, saying that medical marijuana "should happen" and that laws regarding recreational usage should be left in the hands of individual states. Gardner said Trump assured him he would support legislation "to fix this states' rights issue once and for all".
But in a phone call late Wednesday, Trump told Gardner that despite the DOJ memo, the marijuana industry in Colorado won't be targeted, the senator said in a statement Friday.
Gardner held up the nominees after attorney general Jeff Sessions rescinded an earlier Justice Department memo that shielded marijuana operations in states like Colorado from enforcement of the federal ban on the drug. Attorney General Jeff Sessions instead directed USA attorneys to use prosecutorial discretion.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, in response to the Justice Department's January memo, said she was committed to implementing the "will of the voters".
"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", he said in the statement. The Washington Post reported in August that Sessions' DOJ was effectively hamstringing the agency's research efforts by making it harder to grow marijuana.
Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said Sessions' hiring did not reflect Trump's promise to protect state's rights.