Back in 1996, California became the first state to legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes. In the 22 years since, 29 states and Washington, D.C. have followed suit. Nine states, including California, have gone further and legalized the recreational use of marijuana. The federal government, so far, has lagged behind the states in this initiative. Attorney General Jeff Sessions even promised a crackdown on the states that had legalized, amid outcry even from Republican legislators. Now, LA Times reports that the Trump Administration has done an about-face on previous marijuana policy.
Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado publicly chastised Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions when Sessions announced the recension of the Cole Memo, an Obama-era policy of allowing marijuana businesses to operate in states that had decided to legalize. In retaliation, Gardner began to block justice department nominations.
The Trump administration confirmed the policy retreat on Friday, which effectively undermines Sessions’ personal views on the drug. Trump assured Gardner that the federal government would not interfere in states where marijuana was legalized.
In an unprecedented move, Trump did not consult or inform Attorney General Jeff Sessions before speaking with Gardner and making those assurances. Sessions had personally announced a crackdown on marijuana and the states where it was being sold in January.
There is some concern, however, among industry advocates, that Gardner’s deal may only apply to the state of Colorado.
Lawmakers have been reluctant to lift prohibition actions against recreational marijuana. Even in Washington, D.C., where voters approved the recreational use of marijuana, sales have been prohibited.