Trump said he’s likely to sign a bill protecting states with legalized marijuana, directly opposing Jeff Sessions
President Donald Trump said Friday that he will likely support a bipartisan bill in the Senate that would give states autonomy over their marijuana policy, putting himself directly at odds with his own attorney general.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has long held a hardline stance on marijuana. In January, he rescinded the Cole Memo, a set of Obama-era guidelines that instructed federal law enforcement not to target marijuana operations in states where the drug is legal.
Co-sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Entrusting States, or STATES Act, would protect businesses in states with legalized marijuana from federal government interference and prosecution from the Department of Justice.
Marijuana is considered an illegal, Schedule I substance by the federal government. However, it’s available for recreational use in nine states and the District of Columbia. Both senators hail from states that have legalized marijuana.
“I know exactly what [Gardner is] doing,” Trump told reporters at the G7 conference in Quebec. “We’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that.”
“I really do. I support Senator Gardner,” Trump added.
Gardner, for his part, said in a Thursday press conference announcing the bill that he had spoken with Trump about the bill.
“I have talked to the president about this bill,” Gardner said. “He talked about his support for a states’ rights approach during the campaign. Not putting words in the mouth of the White House, but I think this will be an opportunity for us to fulfill what is that federalism approach.”
Gardner cut a deal with Trump to support the bill after a showdown over Justice Department nominees. Gardner blocked nominees after Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo in January.
Trump, so far, has remained mum on the topic of federal legalization throughout his term, though during the 2016 campaign that he supports state’s rights to choose how to regulate marijuana — an approach that’s directly in line with Warren and Gardner’s bill.
Because of federal regulations, most marijuana businesses are barred from traditional banks and opening lines of credit. That forces much of the industry to operate on an all-cash basis, presenting serious concerns over theft and making tax collection difficult.
“No legitimate business should be blocked from basic banking services – but that’s exactly what’s happening to law-abiding marijuana businesses,” Warren tweeted on Thursday. “My new bipartisan bill will help decrease the public safety risk that arises when these businesses are forced to operate in all-cash.”
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