from the will-no-one-rid-me-of-this-turbulent-priest^W-Attorney-General? dept.
We had two Soylentils submit stories about Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
Trump fires Attorney General Jeff Sessions
"US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been fired by President Donald Trump.
[...] Mr Trump said Mr Sessions will be temporarily replaced by his chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, who has criticised the Russia inquiry.
[...] In a resignation letter, Mr Sessions - a former Alabama senator who was an early supporter of Mr Trump - made clear the decision to go was not his own.
[...] The president cannot directly fire the special counsel, whose investigation Mr Trump has repeatedly decried as a witch hunt. But Mr Sessions' replacement will have the power to fire Mr Mueller or end the inquiry.
[...] Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he looks forward to 'working with President Trump to find a confirmable, worthy successor so that we can start a new chapter at the Department of Justice'.
Mr Graham, of South Carolina, had said last year there would be 'holy hell to pay' if Mr Sessions was ever fired."
[...] House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said: "It is impossible to read Attorney General Sessions' firing as anything other than another blatant attempt by President Trump to undermine & end Special Counsel Mueller's investigation."
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Resigns
Jeff Sessions is out. The new Acting Attorney General is Matthew G. Whitaker:
Matthew Whitaker will take over as acting attorney general, the President said. Whitaker is expected to take charge of the Russia investigation and special counsel Robert Mueller from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Whitaker has been openly critical of Mueller and the investigation and Democrats immediately called on him to recuse himself, just as Sessions had.
The US Surveillance State is Poised to Become Even More Powerful
Trump and Sessions Plan to Restrict H-1B Workers. Hyderabad Says to Bring It On.
Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions Backs Crypto Backdoors
Washington State Will Resist Federal Crackdown on Cannabis
DoJ Reverses Plans to Reduce the Use of Private Prisons
New Attorney General Claims Legal Weed Drives Violent Crime; Statistics be Damned
Trump Administration's War on Science Reaches DoJ
4/20: The Third Time's Not the Charm
Jeff Sessions Reboots the Drug War
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Will Rescind the Cole Memo
President Trump Backed Off from Ordering Special Counsel Mueller Fired
President Trump Promises to Support State Legalization of Cannabis; Boehner Evolves
The US surveillance state is poised to grow more powerful under a Trump administration.
Though President-elect Donald Trump still has nearly two months until he's sworn in, his picks for Attorney General and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency are a sign that many surveillance reforms could be overturned or changed, such as the NSA's collection of telephone metadata on all Americans — a program that was reformed after it was exposed by Edward Snowden.
Trump recently appointed Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, and Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo for CIA Director. Both have advocated for the increased domestic spying that was implemented by former President George W. Bush after 9/11, according to Bloomberg.
"Congress should pass a law re-establishing collection of all metadata, and combining it with publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database," Pompeo wrote with coauthor David Rivkin, Jr. in a Wall Street Journal editorial in January.
For the new political order taking shape in Washington, however, H-1Bs aren't quite welcome. Amid promises of sweeping changes to immigration policy, President-elect Donald Trump and his choice for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), have tabbed the program for a major overhaul, and might even scrap it altogether. In the House, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is on the same wavelength.
Trump has described H-1Bs as a "cheap labor program" subject to "widespread, rampant" abuse. Sessions co-sponsored legislation last year with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to effectively gut the program; Issa, a congressman with Trump's ear, released a statement Wednesday saying he was reintroducing similar legislation called the Protect and Grow American Jobs Act.
Sessions and Issa's legislation primarily targets large outsourcing companies, such as Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services, that receive the vast majority of H-1B visas and use them to deploy workers to American companies seeking to cut costs. In 2015, the top 10 recipients of H-1B visas were outsourcing firms. As recently as 2013, the Justice Department, which Sessions stands to take over, settled with Infosys for $34 million in a visa fraud case.
If they were smart they'd change the program to maximize brain-drain from other countries by making H-1B a fast-track to citizenship instead of the 6+ year wait for a green-card that it now is. Bring in the best of them rather than the cheapest of them and let them compete on equal footing rather than the indentured servitude of the current H-1B program.
Like other politicians and government officials, President Trump's nominee for the position of Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, wants to have it both ways when it comes to encryption:
At his confirmation hearing, Sessions was largely non-committal. But in his written responses to questions posed by Sen. Patrick Leahy, however, he took a much clearer position:
Question: Do you agree with NSA Director Rogers, Secretary of Defense Carter, and other national security experts that strong encryption helps protect this country from cyberattack and is beneficial to the American people's' digital security?
Response: Encryption serves many valuable and important purposes. It is also critical, however, that national security and criminal investigators be able to overcome encryption, under lawful authority, when necessary to the furtherance of national-security and criminal investigations.
Despite Sessions' "on the one hand, on the other" phrasing, this answer is a clear endorsement of backdooring the security we all rely on. It's simply not feasible for encryption to serve what Sessions concedes are its "many valuable and important purposes" and still be "overcome" when the government wants access to plaintext. As we saw last year with Sens. Burr and Feinstein's draft Compliance with Court Orders Act, the only way to give the government this kind of access is to break the Internet and outlaw industry best practices, and even then it would only reach the minority of encryption products made in the USA.
The State of Washington's Attorney General says he will resist federal efforts to undermine his state's legalized cannabis laws:
With White House press secretary Sean Spicer suggesting Thursday that the Trump administration would crack down on states that have legal recreational marijuana, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson vowed to defend Washington state's legal pot law. "I will resist any efforts by the Trump administration to undermine the will of the voters in Washington state," Ferguson said in an interview. Spicer said during a press briefing Thursday that the issue rests with the Justice Department. But he said, "I do believe that you'll see greater enforcement of it."
[...] Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee sent a letter to U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions, dated Feb. 15 that laid out arguments for Washington's state-regulated pot industry. They said illegal dealing is being displaced by a tightly regulated industry that is projected to pay $272 million in taxes this fiscal year. That frees up law-enforcement officers to protect communities facing more pressing threats. They also noted that legal pot entrepreneurs must undergo criminal and financial background checks.
California's Attorney General is also on board:
Private prisons are making a comeback:
The Trump administration is rolling back an Obama-era plan to phase out the federal government's use of private prisons. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a memo Thursday to the Bureau of Prisons rescinding the Obama administration's Aug. 16 order advising the bureau not to renew any contracts with private prisons, according to a copy of the letter. Then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates had instructed officials to either not renew private prison contracts or substantially reduce the scope of such contracts to ultimately end the department's use of privately operated prisons altogether.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions's four-sentence memo rescinding Justice Department guidance to reduce the use of private prisons sent stock soaring for the two companies that dominate the industry, Geo Group and CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America). That's not necessarily because the memo will lead to a ramp-up in Geo- or CoreCivic-run federal prisons. As of December 2015, about 12 percent of all inmates in federal prisons were housed in private facilities, representing only 22,660 inmates. That certainly won't decline under Sessions, but he didn't promise to increase it substantially. "I direct the [Bureau of Prisons] to return to its previous approach," Sessions wrote. Anyway, DoJ renewed a pair of contracts with CoreCivic despite the now-scuttled order, so it's unclear if the status quo ever stopped.
Also at CNN Money.
The Center for American Progress reports
On [February 27], days after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters to expect stricter enforcement of federal pot law, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recycled discredited drug war talking points in remarks of his own.
"I believe it's an unhealthy practice, and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and we're seeing real violence around that", Sessions said. "Experts are telling me there's more violence around marijuana than one would think and there's big money involved."
In reality, violent crime rates tend to decrease where marijuana is legalized.
Denver saw a 2.2 percent drop in violent crime rates in the year after the first legal recreational cannabis sales in Colorado. Overall property crime dropped by 8.9 percent [PDF] in the same period there, according to figures from the Drug Policy Alliance. In Washington, violent crime rates dropped by 10 percent [PDF] from 2011 to 2014. Voters legalized recreational marijuana there in 2012.
Medical marijuana laws, which have a longer track record for academics than recreational pot legalization, are also associated with stable or falling violent crime rates. In one 2014 study of the 11 states that legalized medical pot from 1990 to 2006, there was no increase in the seven major categories of violent crime and "some evidence of decreasing rates of some types of violent crime, namely homicide and assault."
[...] Elsewhere in his remarks, Sessions unwittingly made the case against treating pot activity like serious crime. "You can't sue somebody for drug debt". he said. "The only way to get your money is through strong-arm tactics, and violence tends to follow that."
Legalizing, regulating, and taxing the sale of marijuana is the surest way to remedying that exact tendency for pot commerce to trigger violent score-settling. Legalization invites pot business into the light, granting cannabusinesses at least partial access to official modes of recourse when they are defrauded.
8 states and the District of Columbia have legalised marijuana for recreational use.
Ever see anyone use cannabis and become more aggressive rather than more mellow?
Note: ThinkProgress redirects all accesses of their pages and will attach tracking numbers. I have made sure that those are not in the URLs.
Since this time last year, Ohio, Florida, North Dakota, and Arkansas legalized medical cannabis, Illinois decriminalized it, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts legalized recreational cannabis. An attempt to legalize recreational cannabis in Arizona narrowly failed.
29 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical use, although restrictions vary widely from state to state.
Germany's medical cannabis law was approved in January and came into effect in March. Poland has also legalized medical cannabis, and Georgia's Supreme Court has ruled that imprisonment for possession of small amounts of cannabis is unconstitutional.
🍁 Cannada: Not So Fast 🍁
Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled (archive) legislation (archive) that would make Canada the first major Western country to legalize recreational cannabis (the only country to legalize it to date is Uruguay, although implementation has taken years), dealing a serious blow to the crumbling United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. However, the Liberal Party of Canada intends to wait more than a year to act on its campaign promise, during which time Canadians can still face prosecution for possession of the drug:
True to form, this government has written down a series of talking points, in this case, trying to make it sound like it's cracking down on pot rather than legalizing it. And Justin Trudeau's ministers are sticking to the messaging from party central like a child reciting Dr. Seuss.
Not once in that As It Happens interview did [Justice Minister Jody] Wilson-Raybould explain why the government intends to keep on criminalizing Canadians so unfairly (see the Liberal party's website statement) for another year. Instead, literally every second time she opened her mouth, she re-spouted the line about "strictly regulating and restricting access." Off asked eight questions. Four times, Wilson-Raybould robotically reverted to the same phrase.
Meanwhile, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, a parliamentary lifer who mastered the art of repetitive dronetalk sometime back in the last millennium, was out peddling more or less the same line, but with an added warning: Not only will the government continue to criminalize Canadians for what it considers a trifling offence, enforcement will be vigorous. "Existing laws prohibiting possession and use of cannabis remain in place, and they need to be respected," Goodale declared. "This must be an orderly transition. It is not a free-for-all." Why the government cannot simply decide to invoke prosecutorial and police discretion, and cease enforcing the cannabis laws it considers unjust, was not explained. Why that would necessarily be a "free for all" also went unexplained.
The Liberal Party of Canada has taken pains to remind everyone that the Conservative Party will "do everything they can to stop real change and protect a failed status quo". Unfortunately, they did not get the memo that "marijuana" is a term with racist origins.
Make like a tree and legalize it, Cannadia... Cannibinoidia.
President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions
Backtrack to April 20th, 2016. Bernie Sanders still seemingly had a shot at becoming the President of the United States. Sanders, as well as Hillary Clinton (though begrudgingly), supported decriminalization of cannabis, medical use, and the continuation of states making decisions about recreational use. The #2 Republican candidate Ted Cruz also had a "let the states sort it out" stance.
One contender stood out, and he went on to become the @POTUS to #MAGA. The widely predicted "third term" was prevented, and that outcome may greatly affect a burgeoning semi-legal cannabis industry. One recent casualty are Amsterdam-style "cannabis clubs" (think: brewpubs). Colorado's legislature has backed off on a bill that would have allowed on-site consumption of cannabis at dispensaries due to the uncertain future of federal enforcement of cannabis prohibition.
Trump's position on cannabis has been ill-defined, although he supports medical use and has indicated that states should handle the issue. But the same can't be said of his Attorney General, former Senator Jeff Sessions. Here are some quotes about the drug from Mr. Sessions:
We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it's in fact a very real danger.
I think one of [President Obama's] great failures, it's obvious to me, is his lax treatment in comments on marijuana... It reverses 20 years almost of hostility to drugs that began really when Nancy Reagan started 'Just Say No.
You can't have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana like it is no different than taking a drink... It is different... It is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal.
Good people don't smoke marijuana.
Cannabis advocates are becoming increasingly paranoid about the federal government's stance towards the states (and a certain District) that have legalized cannabis. And this is following an Obama administration that was criticized for conducting raids in states with legalization. It is too early to tell how the Trump administration will choose to deal with cannabis, but there are signs that harsher policies and greater enforcement could be coming:
On Wednesday, [April 5th,] Jeff Sessions directed Justice Department lawyers to evaluate marijuana enforcement policy and send him recommendations. And some state officials are worried. This week the governors of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington wrote the attorney general. They asked Sessions and the new Treasury secretary to consult with them before making any changes to regulations or enforcement.
At the White House, press secretary Sean Spicer said recently that the president is sympathetic to people who use marijuana for medical reasons. He pointed out that Congress has acted to bar the Justice Department from using federal money to interfere in state medical cannabis programs. But Spicer took a harsh view of recreational marijuana. "When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we need to be doing is encouraging people. There is still a federal law we need to abide by," Spicer said.
Really, Spicer? Recreational cannabis use shouldn't be encouraged during an opioid addiction crisis? Read on.
Politics nexus unavailable for comment.
The Opioid Crisis Drags On (it's relevant)
Heroin use has become more dangerous as dealers have increasingly added other substances that massively increase potency without affecting the size of a dose significantly. Carfentanil, which is used as an elephant tranquilizer, has led to hundreds of deaths over very short timespans. It is impossible for the average user to predict the potency and potential danger of street heroin. While there have been international responses to these compounds, new chemical analogues are being created all the time:
Chinese labs producing the synthetic opiates play hide-and-seek with authorities. On their websites, they list fake addresses in derelict shopping centers or shuttered factories, and use third-party sales agents to conduct transactions that are hard to trace. The drugs themselves are easy to find with a Google search and to buy with a few mouse clicks. A recent check found more than a dozen Chinese sites advertising fentanyl, carfentanil, and other derivatives, often labeled as "research chemicals," for sale through direct mail shipments to the United States. On one website, carfentanil goes for $361 for 50 grams: tens of thousands of lethal doses.
The cat-and-mouse game extends to chemistry, as the makers tinker with fentanyl itself. Minor modifications like adding an oxygen atom or shifting a methyl group can be enough to create whole new entities that are no longer on the list of sanctioned compounds. Carfentanil itself was, until recently, unregulated in China.
2016 saw the addition of kratom to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in the U.S. Advocates for the tree leaf drug, which was formerly classified as a supplement, believe that its painkiller effects and low risk factors make it a useful replacement for the oft-deadly opioids that millions of Americans are addicted to. Kratom users have treated their pain and opioid withdrawal symptoms using the formerly "legal high". The DEA has refused to acknowledge this application and points out the "skyrocketing" number of calls to the Poison Control Center regarding kratom in recent years. One skeptic of kratom, Dr. Josh Bloom of the American Council on Science and Health, has looked at the same evidence and concluded that the trail of bodies left by substances like fentanyl and the scarce number of deaths (perhaps wrongly) attributed to kratom make it clear that the substance is the better "poison". He also notes that:
The number of calls to poison control centers is not reliable for determining how many poisonings actually occurred. It is a crude approximation at best.
Much like kratom, medical cannabis has been touted as a solution to the opioid crisis. States with legalized medical cannabis have seen a reduction in reported instances of opioid dependence [DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.01.006] [DX] So it is puzzling that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer would use opioids as a bludgeon against cannabis legalization while AG Sessions expresses astonishment over the suggestion of using cannabis as a "cure" for the opioid crisis.
Bonus: Here's a video (2m14s) of a woman getting administered Narcan/naloxone. Here's an alternate video (2m39s) in which a man who overdosed on heroin is able to sit up in about a minute after being administered naloxone.
⚚ The Slow March for Science ⚕
While the Drug Enforcement Agency has refused to reclassify cannabis from its current Schedule I status, citing the supposedly rigorous conclusions reached by the Food and Drug Administration, it will allow more than one institution to grow cannabis for research purposes, ending the monopoly held by the University of Mississippi. However, the Schedule I status of cannabis remains an impediment to further research:
[...] DEA's decision not to reschedule marijuana presents a Catch-22. By ruling that there is not enough evidence of "currently accepted medical use"—a key distinction between the highly restrictive Schedule I classification and the less restrictive Schedule II—the administration essentially makes it harder to gather such evidence.
"They're setting a standard that can't be met," says David Bradford, a health economist at the University of Georgia, Athens. "That level of proof is never going to be forthcoming in the current environment because it requires doing a really extensive clinical trial series, and given that a pharmaceutical company can't patent whole plant marijuana, it's in no company's interest to do that."
Schedule I status presents obstacles for clinical researchers because of restrictions on how the drugs must be stored and handled, Bradford says. Perhaps more significant, that listing may evoke skittishness at funding agencies and on the institutional review boards that must sign off on research involving human subjects.
"It doesn't resemble cannabis. It doesn't smell like cannabis," Sisley told PBS NewsHour last week.
Jake Browne, a cannabis critic for the Denver Post's Cannabist marijuana news site, agrees. "That is, flat out, not a usable form of cannabis," he said. Browne should know: He's reviewed dozens of strains professionally and is running a sophisticated marijuana growing competition called the Grow-Off.
"In two decades of smoking weed, I've never seen anything that looks like that," Browne said. "People typically smoke the flower of the plant, but here you can clearly see stems and leaves in there as well, parts that should be discarded. Inhaling that would be like eating an apple, including the seeds inside it and the branch it grew on."
Research on cannabinoids and psychedelics is proceeding, slowly. One study published yesterday (74 years after the first LSD trip) came to an astounding conclusion: Psychedelics can induce a "heightened state of consciousness":
Healthy volunteers who received LSD, ketamine or psilocybin, a compound found in magic mushrooms, were found to have more random brain activity than normal while under the influence, according to a study into the effects of the drugs. The shift in brain activity accompanied a host of peculiar sensations that the participants said ranged from floating and finding inner peace, to distortions in time and a conviction that the self was disintegrating.
[...] What we find is that under each of these psychedelic compounds, this specific measure of global conscious level goes up, so it moves in the other direction. The neural activity becomes more unpredictable," said Anil Seth, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Sussex. "Until now, we've only ever seen decreases compared to the baseline of the normal waking state."
Increased spontaneous MEG signal diversity for psychoactive doses of ketamine, LSD and psilocybin (open, DOI: 10.1038/srep46421) (DX)
♯ Ending on High Notes ♯
And now to scrape the bottom of the barrel:
- Americans Don't Care If Their Parents Know They Smoke Weed, Survey Says
- California Today: At Newspapers, Covering Pot Like Wine (archive)
- Nation's first public needle vending machine for drug users debuts in Las Vegas
- GRiZ Won the Celebrity Weed Game Without Selling Out
- Secret A.T.F. Account Paid for $21,000 Nascar Suite and Las Vegas Trip (archive)
- Legal Marijuana Ends at Airport Security, Even if It's Rarely Stopped (archive)
- Anti-Heroin Video From a Florida Sheriff Appalls Critics but Impresses Constituents (archive)
Common Dreams reports
The Trump administration's anti-science bent has reached the Department of Justice (DOJ), with Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying [April 10] that the department is ending the National Commission on Forensic Science.
The 30-member panel was described by ThinkProgress as "a group of scientists, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other experts tasked by the Obama administration in 2013 with raising standards for the use of forensic evidence in criminal proceedings".
In its place, a senior forensic advisor will be appointed "to interface with forensic science stakeholders and advise department leadership", Sessions' statement said.
[...] "The reliance of law enforcement on questionable science and the overstatement of the reliability of that science has been a leading cause of the wrongful conviction of innocent people", said National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) president Barry Pollack on Monday. "The reason the National Commission on Forensic Science has been so important is that it includes leading independent scientists, allowing an unbiased expert evaluation of which techniques are scientifically valid and which are not. NACDL is terribly disappointed that even while acknowledging the crucial role played by the National Commission on Forensic Science, the Attorney General has chosen to disband it."
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that he has directed his federal prosecutors to pursue the most severe penalties possible, including mandatory minimum sentences, in his first step toward a return to the war on drugs of the 1980s and 1990s that resulted in long sentences for many minority defendants and packed U.S. prisons.
[...] In the later years of the Obama administration, a bipartisan consensus emerged on Capitol Hill for sentencing reform legislation, which Sessions opposed and successfully worked to derail.
In a two-page memo to federal prosecutors across the country, Sessions overturned former attorney general Eric H. Holder's sweeping criminal charging policy that instructed his prosecutors to avoid charging certain defendants with offenses that would trigger long mandatory minimum sentences. In its place, Sessions told his more than 5,000 assistant U.S. attorneys to charge defendants with the most serious crimes, carrying the toughest penalties.
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
The New York Times reports "Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When White House Counsel Threatened to Quit":
President Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.
Mueller Investigation: Three Former Trump Aides Charged
Michael Flynn Pleads Guilty to Lying to the F.B.I.
UK Election Results; Fired FBI Director's Testimony on Trump; Trump Nominates New FBI Director
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?