President Donald Trump, led by his Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has doubled-down on enforcement of the federal drug war. Sessions indicated that the administration would be increasing civil asset forfeiture and marijuana enforcement, but a Republican Senate leader has indicated that Trump is now pivoting in the opposite direction toward cannabis freedom.
“Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states’ rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said in a release from last week. “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. 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 Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed that Gardner was telling the truth about Trump’s newfound support for marijuana rights.
“We’re always consulting Congress about issues including states’ rights, of which the president is a firm believer,” she said.
Previously, Gardner and Trump had battled over the marijuana issue. Gardner claimed that Sessions’ resurgence of the war on drugs caused Trump to betray a key campaign promise.
“This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states,” Gardner wrote in a tweet earlier this year. Gardner even blocked Justice Department appointees for a period in protest of Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole Memo, which stopped enforcement of marijuana prohibition in states that have decided to legalize.
Sessions attempted to downplay the significance of his decision at the time.
“Today’s memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. Attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country,” Sessions said in a press release earlier in the year.
Still, Trump is apparently going against the directives of his own Attorney General and is going back to what he said on the campaign trail before he was elected.
“I think it certainly has to be a state — I have not smoked it — it’s got to be a state decision … I do like it, you know, from a medical standpoint … it does do pretty good things. But from the other standpoint, I think that it should be up to the states,” Trump said about marijuana in a 2016 radio interview.