Trump Administration Signals End to War on Legal Cannabis

April 16, 2018 by Dennis R. Baranowski, Esq.

In a big win for cannabis proponents, the Trump Administration announced a shift in the President’s policy concerning legal cannabis. Marking a strange turn of events, White House officials announced a policy change to remove the threat of the Justice Department enforcing cannabis laws against those that are complying with state and local cannabis laws and regulations.

Officials confirmed that President Trump personally directed the pivot after receiving input from Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO). The change of policy came without a formal announcement from the Justice Department; and it appears the President made the decision ahead of Attorney General Jeff Sessions being informed of the decision.

Senator Gardner secured assurances from President Trump that the President would promote a new law that would give states the authority to make their own rules regarding cannabis sales and distribution.

Senator Gardner told reporters that he had received a commitment from the president on April 11, that the rescission of the Cole memo “would not impact Colorado’s legal cannabis industry.” The memo refers to a decision made by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole during the Obama administration which discouraged prosecutors from targeting cannabis businesses in states that legalized its use and had in place robust regulations.

In a statement that was confirmed by the White House, Senator Gardner represented that “President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.”

Coincidentally, Trump’s policy shift came on the same day that former Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, announced that he has joined the advisory board of a company that cultivates, processes, and distributes cannabis in 11 states.

Boehner had stated he was staunchly opposed to cannabis legalization for years while he was a member of the House of Representatives. However, last week, in an interview, he said, “Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically. I find myself in that same position.”

More than 25 states now allow some form of legal cannabis, and the current trend from the political class signals that acceptance of cannabis use has gone mainstream.