President Trump promised a top Senate Republican that he will support congressional efforts to protect states that have legalized marijuana, the Washington Post reports. The move defuses a months-long standoff between Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and the administration over Justice Department nominees. In January, Gardner said he would block all DOJ nominations after Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo that heightened the prospect of a federal marijuana crackdown in states that had legalized the substance. Gardner’s state made recreational marijuana legal in 2014.
Trump told Gardner last week that despite the DOJ memo, the marijuana industry in Colorado will not be targeted, the senator said. Satisfied, the first-term senator is now backing down from his nominee blockade. The senator said Trump “has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.” Gardner was irate in January when Sessions revoked guidance from the Obama administration, known as the Cole memo, that had discouraged prosecutors from enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that had legalized the drug. Sessions had pledged during his confirmation process for attorney general he would leave states that had legalized marijuana alone. During the presidential campaign, Trump said “it’s up to the states” on the marijuana issue. Trump “does respect Colorado’s right to decide for themselves how to best approach this issue,” said White House legislative affairs director Marc Short. Gardner has held up about 20 Justice nominees.