Trump and Gardner Strike Deal to Avoid Crackdown on Colorado Marijuana

Agreement includes lifting hold on DOJ nominees

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., has reached an agreement with the White House on marijuana policy. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump will not be letting Attorney General Jeff Sessions undermine Colorado’s thriving marijuana industry.

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado had held up a variety of Justice Department nominations over the Trump administration’s decision to pull back a memo from then-Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole that had restricted federal enforcement of drug laws against marijuana.

Gardner and others were concerned that it could lead to federal agents taking enforcement actions against dispensaries and other businesses that are legal under Colorado state law.

On Friday, Gardner announced he had a deal with Trump that would allow him to lift the hold on the Justice 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 in a statement. “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.”

At Friday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president wants states to decide about marijuana legalization, labeling him a big believer in states’ rights.

Sessions has long criticized efforts to legalize marijuana.

Watch: Gardner Rails Against Sessions’ Marijuana Action as States’ Rights Issue

“Because of these commitments, I have informed the Administration that I will be lifting my remaining holds on Department of Justice nominees. My colleagues and I are continuing to work diligently on a bipartisan legislative solution that can pass Congress and head to the President’s desk to deliver on his campaign position,” Gardner said.

The Washington Post first reported the agreement with the White House.

John T. Bennett contributed to this report. 

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