from the outlook-is...-hazy dept.
President Trump has promised Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado that he will support states that choose to legalize cannabis, despite rescinding the Cole Memo earlier in the year. In exchange, Gardner will stop holding up the confirmation of Trump's Department of Justice nominees:
"Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states' rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana," Gardner said in a statement. "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. Because of these commitments, I have informed the Administration that I will be lifting my remaining holds on Department of Justice nominees," Gardner added.
The Washington Post first reported the development, and the White House confirmed on Friday Gardner's statement was accurate.
In January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked the Cole Memo, Obama-era guidance designed to discourage prosecutors from targeting states that have legalized marijuana. The move provoked an outcry from marijuana friendly states, including Gardner's Colorado, in which the marijuana industry has flourished since 2000. Angry that Sessions had reneged on his pledge to leave marijuana states alone, Gardner promised to block all DOJ nominations, pending a resolution. Since then, he has held up about 20 Justice nominations, the Washington Post reported.
Meanwhile, former Speaker of the House John Boehner, who was "unalterably opposed" to legalization of cannabis back in 2011, has now evolved and is seeing green. Boehner announced that he has joined a board of advisers for Acreage Holdings, a cannabis corporation operating in 11 states. Is it a "watershed moment" for the industry?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions will roll back an Obama-era policy that gave states leeway to allow marijuana for recreational purposes.
Two sources with knowledge of the decision confirmed to The Hill that Sessions will rescind the so-called Cole memo, which ordered U.S. attorneys in states where marijuana has been legalized to deprioritize prosecution of marijuana-related cases.
The Associated Press first reported the decision.
Sessions, a vocal critic of marijuana legalization, has hinted for months that he would move to crack down on the growing cannabis market.
Republican Senator Cory Gardner says he will hold up the confirmation process for DoJ nominees:
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) threatened on Thursday to start holding up the confirmation process for White House Justice Department nominees unless Attorney General Jeff Sessions reverses a decision to roll back a policy allowing legalized recreational use of marijuana in some states.
Gardner said in a series of tweets that Sessions had told him before he was confirmed by the Senate that he would not change an Obama-era policy that discouraged federal prosecutors from pursuing marijuana-related offenses in states where the substance had been legalized. Colorado is one of those states.
[...] The Justice Department's reversal of the Cole memo on Thursday came three days after California's new law allowing recreational marijuana use went into effect.
Previously: New Attorney General Claims Legal Weed Drives Violent Crime; Statistics be Damned
4/20: The Third Time's Not the Charm
Jeff Sessions Reboots the Drug War
According to Gallup, American Support for Cannabis Legalization is at an All-Time High
Opioid Commission Drops the Ball, Demonizes Cannabis
Recreational Cannabis Goes on Sale in California
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has come out in support of federal cannabis decriminalization, just in time for 4/20:
The Minority Leader of the Senate is making it official the day before 4/20: He's down with legal weed. In an exclusive interview with VICE News, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) confirmed he is putting his name on legislation that he said is aimed at "decriminalizing" marijuana at the federal level. For Schumer, this is a shift. While he has backed medical marijuana and the rights of states to experiment with legal sales of pot, what he is proposing is a seismic shift in federal drug policy.
"Ultimately, it's the right thing to do. Freedom. If smoking marijuana doesn't hurt anybody else, why shouldn't we allow people to do it and not make it criminal?" Schumer said.
The legislation should be available within a week or so, and would remove cannabis (still listed as "Marihuana") from the Drug Enforcement Administration's list of Schedule I substances. States would then be free to regulate or continue to prohibit the plant. Cannabis advertising would be regulated as are alcohol and tobacco advertising. (Also at NPR, CNN, The Washington Post, and CNBC, as well as Reason taking a shot at Schumer for not doing it sooner.)
A majority of Americans support the legalization of cannabis, including, for the first time, a majority (51%) of Republicans, according to Gallup. Nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use. 29 states, D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico have legalized medical use of cannabis, and another 17 states have legalized the use of cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabis became available for recreational purposes in California on January 1.