In a telephone town hall on Wednesday, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) said recent anti-marijuana messaging from the White House is “at odds” with what Attorney General Jeff Sessions told him personally prior to being confirmed.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said last week that he believes the Department of Justice under Sessions will ramp up enforcement against recreational marijuana. That was followed by Sessions himself stating that he doesn’t see a need for recreational pot and suggesting falsely that the drug is sold at “every corner grocery store.”
When asked by a constituent about the new administration’s stance, Gardner said he planned to stand up to actions against legalized marijuana in Colorado—and that this isn’t what he was told to expect by the Attorney General.
“I had a long and lengthy visit with Jeff Sessions about his views,” Gardner said. “It was in that conversation that I believe he said that he would not make this a priority, which is at odds, or at least seems to be at odds with what Sean Spicer said.
Gardner said he’s asked the White House to clarify its position on recreational pot, which is now legal in eight states, including California—the most populous in the nation.
Colorado voters approved commercial sales of recreational pot in the 2012 election and became the first state to begin sales on New Year’s Day of 2014.
The medical and recreational marijuana industry provides jobs for more than 30,000 Coloradans, according to the most recent state figures on the number of licensed workers.
Recreational marijuana sales totaled $77 million in Colorado’s most recent monthly report, on track to total $1B in sales annually.
Like many politicians of both parties, Gardner opposed legalizing marijuana before the vote, but adds that since the voters have spoken he’s pushed for legislation to ease banking for the industry and to de-schedule the drug under federal law.
Marijuana is currently listed by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration as a schedule I drug, which puts it in the same category as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. It’s the most restrictive category of drug under federal law, meant for drugs with no medical use and a high risk of abuse.
Pot advocates argue that makes no sense since methamphetamine, cocaine, and oxycodone are listed as less serious schedule II drugs—allowing doctors to prescribe them.
Left-leaning activists have hammered on Gardner for a lack of town hall meetings since the start of the new administration, though a 9NEWS analysis found that members of congress from Colorado haven’t substantially changed the number of town hall meetings they hold.
Gardner took questions for about 45 minutes on Wednesday, primarily from left-leaning voters, before heading to a meeting with President Donald Trump.
He also said he supports the FBI investigation into the charge that Russia engaged in hacking designed to sway the election to Donald Trump’s favor.