GOP Senator Says Trump Vowed To Protect Marijuana Industry

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

President Trump has promised to support legislation protecting the marijuana industry in states that have legalized the drug, a Republican senator said Friday, disclosing the move that could lift a threat to the industry made by the U.S. attorney general just three months ago.

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado said Trump made the pledge to him in a Wednesday night conversation.

Gardner has been pushing to reverse a decision made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in January that removed prohibitions that kept federal prosecutors from pursuing cases against people who were following pot laws in states such as Colorado that have legalized the drug.

Marijuana has been fully legalized in eight states, including Massachusetts, and 24 states allow some form of marijuana use.

"President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states' rights issue once and for all," Gardner said in a statement Friday.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gardner used his power as a senator to prevent consideration of any nominees for the Department of Justice after Sessions made his announcement.

Gardner allowed some nominees to proceed in a "good-faith" gesture last month. On Friday, he said he was fully releasing his holds on nominations.

Gardner and the Department of Justice have been in discussions for months to get the holds lifted. Gardner has met with Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the official overseeing the Russia probe who has been the target of Trump's ire.

Trump called the senator before Gardner was scheduled to speak with Rosenstein.

During the campaign, Trump said states should be able to chart their own course on marijuana.

Gardner said he was blindsided by the move by Sessions, a longtime critic of the drug.

Gardner hopes to introduce bipartisan legislation keeping the federal government from interfering in state marijuana markets.


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