Trump Admin Abandons Crackdown on Legal Marijuana
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Trump Admin Abandons Crackdown on Legal Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on April 13, 2018 at 16:41:16 PT
By Evan Halper
Source: Los Angeles Times
Washington, D.C. -- The Trump administration is abandoning a Justice Department threat to crack down on recreational marijuana in states where it is legal, a move that could enable cannabis businesses in California and other states that have legalized pot to operate without fear of federal raids and prosecution.President Trump personally directed the abrupt retreat, which came at the behest of Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado. White House officials confirmed the policy shift Friday. Trump did not inform Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions in advance of the change in policy, an almost unheard of undermining of a Cabinet official.
Gardner was incensed in January when the Justice Department announced that it was rescinding an Obama-era policy that directed federal prosecutors not to target marijuana businesses that operate legally under state law. The senator had blocked Justice Department nominees in retaliation.In conversation with Trump this week, Gardner said he was assured that the federal government would not interfere with his state's marijuana industry and that Trump would champion a new law that gives states the authority to set their own pot policies. In response, he lifted his remaining holds on nominees."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," Gardner said, referring to the Obama-era policy, named after former Deputy Atty. Gen. James M. Cole, who issued it."Furthermore, President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states' rights issue once and for all."White House officials confirmed that Gardner's comments accurately reflect the administration's position."The president did speak with Sen. Gardner yesterday and again today," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Friday at the White House. She said "the president is a firm believer" in states' rights and confirmed Gardner's account of the assurances he received from the president was accurate.A Justice Department official who requested anonymity to speak frankly about internal discussions confirmed that Trump did not consult Sessions before talking with Gardner. Sessions, a longtime anti-drug crusader, personally announced the administration's pot crackdown policy in January.The attorney general and Trump have had a frosty relationship for months, largely over Trump's continued resentment that Sessions recused himself from any involvement into the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.Trump's decision to undercut a major Sessions initiative without informing the attorney general in advance was a striking example of how low their relationship has sunk.California is one of eight states in which recreational marijuana is legal. The administration's announcement in January that it was allowing prosecutors to target businesses selling pot legally under state laws put a cloud of uncertainty over the rapidly growing cannabis industry.The talk of a crackdown threatened to slow investment in marijuana companies, which risked shutdown and seizure of their products at the decision of a single U.S. attorney. Under federal law, marijuana remains categorized as among the most dangerous drugs available, and one that has no valid medical purpose.Marijuana stocks, which started the day down, surged after word spread of the Trump administration's new posture toward the industry.The mixed signals coming out of the administration, however, left some marijuana advocates proceeding with caution.Aaron Lachant, an attorney in Los Angeles who represents marijuana businesses, expressed concern that Gardner's deal might apply only to Colorado."The agreement itself appears narrow and only applicable to that state," he said. "Nevertheless, it is an encouraging sign when in the last year all the messages coming from Washington have been about enforcement. This suggests they are finally moving toward policy solutions."A leader of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), called the commitment Gardner secured from Trump "another head-spinning moment.""We should hope for the best, but not take anything for granted," Blumenauer said. "Trump changes his mind constantly, and Republican leadership is still in our way."Blumenauer is championing a measure that would prohibit federal law enforcement from using any money to crack down on recreational marijuana businesses operating legally under state law. That would expand an existing law that prevents federal law enforcement agencies from using their funds to go after companies legally selling medical marijuana, which is permitted in 29 states. The ban is the result of a budget rider Congress approved in 2014, and has renewed multiple times since.Persuading Congress to lift the prohibition on enforcement actions against recreational marijuana is proving more challenging. Lawmakers have been reluctant. They have even prohibited sales of recreational marijuana in Washington, D.C., where voters approved it.Yet if Trump follows through on his commitment to Gardner, the political equation could change. Trump's support for looser federal marijuana laws could draw other Republicans to join him. A Gallup poll in October found 67% of Americans support marijuana legalization. That support is bipartisan. For the first time, the poll found, most Republican voters favored legalization."It has been a long and difficult process, but we may now be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," said an email from Mason Tvert, who co-directed the campaign to legalize recreational marijuana in Colorado. "This is one more step toward ending the irrational policy of marijuana prohibition, not only in Colorado, but throughout the country."Times Staff Writer Joseph Tanfani contributed to this report.UPDATES:2:55 p.m.: This article was updated with additional detail and reaction.The article was originally published at 12:55 p.m.Evan Halper writes about a broad range of policy issues out of Washington D.C., with particular emphasis on how Washington regulates, agitates and very often miscalculates in its dealings with California. Before heading east, he was the Los Angeles Times bureau chief in Sacramento, where he spent a decade untangling California’s epic budget mess and political dysfunction.Source: Los Angeles Times (CA) Author: Evan HalperPublished: April 13, 2018Copyright: 2018 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #7 posted by John Tyler on April 20, 2018 at 08:06:20 PT
art of the deal
Sounds like Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado knows the “art of the deal” too.
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on April 14, 2018 at 08:20:10 PT
Senator Gardner knows his stuff!
He jumped on those Senate confirmations and rode them to a standstill. I love it. I absolutely love it! My kind of cowboy. He's a smart guy. I'm glad he's on our side now.
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Comment #5 posted by Hope on April 14, 2018 at 07:45:54 PT
My, my my....
Maybe I am going to thank him! Maybe I am. I do thank him for this word. I told you guys about a weird dream I had about President Trump soon after his taking office. I dreamed I was sick (an accurate description of how fun all this activism is. ( It seems funny to call something that goes this slow "activism"). Anyway, the dream... a large President Trump came into the small room I was in, carrying a bowl of soup or something and telling me... in reference to our long journey for justice... "You're going to thank me."What?I thought... yeah... right. I know it was just a dream, but as I was searching for the meaning of it if any, I was thinking it was probably like misled parents back in the day punishing the hell out of someone... "You're going to thank me. (For this someday yada yada yada"). He did seem happy in the dream though, and not threatening. Wow. Wouldn't it be something if he was the engine that got us over the finish line? Our long strange trip has been full of amazing surprises. I can honestly say, I didn't expect this one either. Lot's of surprises going on all over this cannabis law reform movement that I didn't see coming, from any direction, at all.I do so sincerely thank The Honorable Senator Cory Gardner. Whoo hoo! One of those "Clarion voices" I used to pray for. An admirable job of truly representing the people there, Senator Gardner! I thank him and I'm thankful for him. He's saying the word! Marching with that sword of truth. Cutting out the lies with that thing! Got an obsidian blade on that sword of truth he's swinging there! It can cut between molecules!Way to go!
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on April 14, 2018 at 04:22:32 PT
What interests me is that Trump is so angry with Jeff Sessions he was able to be convinced to stand against him. All I say it lets get it done!
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on April 13, 2018 at 20:37:21 PT
This may be the best news coming from Washington recently. Encouraging.The information included regarding sessions is worth a party.-including pointing out the attempt to perpetuate cannabis prohibition on the federal level is: "at the decision of a single U.S. attorney"-0-IT'S ALMOST LIKE READING THERE IS 1 LAST HURDLE. SESSIONS IS THE LAST OF A DYING BREED OF ICK.SESSIONS IS THE ONLY THING BETWEEN RE-LEGALIZING CANNABIS & cannabis prohibition.Well then...
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Comment #2 posted by HempWorld on April 13, 2018 at 17:47:50 PT
Full Speed Ahead!
Trump remarked he wanted to make some changes at the federal level...Legal in all 50 states!Yeah baby!
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on April 13, 2018 at 16:42:42 PT
Good News
Let's get this done since Session is being silenced on his agenda.
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