President Donald Trump told U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) on Wednesday, April 11, that he would support the rights of states that have chosen to legalize marijuana, allowing the legal Cannabis industries in those states to operate without fear of federal intervention.
In return, Sen. Gardner has agreed to stop blocking President Trump’s nominations to the Department of Justice, many of whom have gone unconfirmed for months. Gardner’s resistance to the president’s nominations began in January after Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked the Cole Memo—a piece of Obama-era guidance meant to discourage federal prosecutors from targeting states with legal marijuana even though the drug is still illegal at the federal level.
“Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states' rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana," Sen. 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.”
Gardner went on to say, “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. Because of these commitments, I have informed the Administration that I will be lifting my remaining holds on Department of Justice nominees.”
The DOJ did not take any action against weed-legal states after the revocation of the Cole Memo, but Sen. Gardner has since blocked about 20 nominations to the department.
“Clearly, we've expressed our frustration with the delay with a lot of our nominees and feel that too often, senators hijack a nominee for a policy solution," White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short told the Washington Post. "So we're reluctant to reward that sort of behavior. But at the same time, we're anxious to get our team at the Department of Justice.”
Short also said that the president “does respect Colorado’s right to decide for themselves” on marijuana legalization.