It was only last February when Donald Trump vowed to go after states that legalized recreational marijuana. But today, after Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado (a state with recreational pot) vowed to block the administration’s Department of Justice appointments, the official ‘Trump marijuana stance’ has changed.
Last year Trump first announced his administration’s plans to go after legal marijuana, though it was only this January when we saw any action. That’s when Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo directing all U.S. Attorneys to prosecute marijuana cases. Sessions said, “It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law,” referring to the Cole Memo, the Obama-era policy that left marijuana legalization to the states.
Gardner, a Republican senator from Colorado, one of the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana, said the Sessions memo “trampled on the will of the voters.” He also said that he would block any Department of Justice nominees until Sessions backed down. Gardner said:
Before I voted to confirm Attorney General Sessions, he assured me that marijuana would not be a priority for this administration. Today’s action directly contradicts what I was told, and I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding (U.S. Department of Justice) nominees, until the attorney general lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation. In 2016, President Trump said marijuana legalization should be left up to the states, and I agree.
But now the official Trump marijuana policy has changed, as the administration has backed down. Gardner announced that Trump pledged he would support a law protecting the marijuana industry. This was later confirmed by White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
This doesn’t mean we should celebrate just yet, of course. After all, Trump is mercurial — a fancy word that means “he’ll change his mind if you jingle your keys at him.” Just look at Gardner’s comment above: in 2016 the Trump marijuana stance was supportive of states that voted to legalize marijuana.
According to journalist Dominic Holden, the Department of Justice has refused comment, making it unclear whether or not Trump consulted with the DOJ before making his promise to Gardner.
Experts think, however, that should Trump keep his word, it will be due to the widespread public support for marijuana legalization, as several polls have shown. The pushback from Congress over the recension of the Cole Memo was bipartisan as well.
Still, it’s anyone’s guess how long this Trump marijuana stance will stand. So, until we see actual action, it’s still up in the air.