U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions shows no signs of backing away from a potential Department of Justice (DOJ) crackdown on state-legal cannabis businesses, despite an agreement reached by President Donald Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) earlier this spring.
After Sessions’ repeal of the Cole Memo in January, Gardner vowed to block all DOJ appointments until Sessions softened his stance on cannabis, a siege that prevented at least 11 nominees from getting a Senate floor vote.
In April, Trump promised Gardner that he would support congressional efforts to protect states that have legalized cannabis within their borders. On Friday, Trump said he “probably will end up supporting” the STATES Act, which was introduced by Gardner and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), also on Friday, to eliminate the threat of federal intervention and prosecution in states that have regulated marijuana use and sales.
Sessions, on the other hand, has told Colorado Public Radio (CPR) that he was not told by Trump to back off from states that have legalized cannabis. “I did not have a meeting to discuss in detail what [Gardner’s] comments were,” he said. “They were more about the potential future legislation, as I recall it, and we were not ordered to do anything other than the policies that we intend to carry out nationally.”
“Marijuana remains prohibited by federal law, and Congress presumably will consider [the STATES Act],” Sessions added. “At this time, my view is clear, that the federal law remains in effect nationwide, just like it does for heroin and cocaine. Of course, [marijuana’s] not the death-dealing drug in the same way that fentanyl or heroin is, but it remains on the books as a prohibited substance.”
Sessions emphasized that the Cole Memo no longer protects against federal intervention in cannabis-related matters. “It remains clear that the