After a Wednesday morning meeting with US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) says he still has unanswered questions about the new DOJ policy on marijuana—and will continue to hold up Justice Department nominations.
Gardner accuses Sessions of being untruthful about how he’d treat marijuana during his senate confirmation process and trampling on state’s rights by rescinding the “Cole memo,” a DOJ document that set a framework for allowing state-legalized marijuana sales to happen without fear of federal law enforcement.
Several members of Colorado’s delegation to Congress are calling on Session to reverse course, including Gardner.
“It went fine,” Gardner told 9NEWS when asked how the Wednesday meeting with Sessions went. “It didn't surprise me that we reached no consensus or ultimate decision by the end of the meeting, I think we still have our difference of opinion on this matter, and look forward to future conversations.”
Gardner says that Sessions told him he had no intention to undo the Cole memo during the confirmation process and that marijuana would not be on the administration’s agenda.
The decision to rescind the Cole memo came as a complete surprise and Gardner says he still doesn’t know why it happened.
“That's the answer I still don't have. A sufficient answer in terms of why were we left with the impression that this action would not be taken, we were left with the impression that this would not be on the agenda,” Gardner said.
That belief was strengthened by then-candidate Donald Trump’s answer to a 9NEWS interview question in 2012, saying that the states should be left to decide marijuana policy for themselves. Gardner says he thinks that’s still President Trump’s position.
“I don't think the Department of Justice is in the same place as the White House on this,” Gardner said.
Gardner says Sessions did agree to meet with a larger group of concerned Senators, who are already exploring ways to counter the recent policy change through legislation.
That could include an idea championed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado,) which would be to de-fund any federal law enforcement action against recreational marijuana operations that comply with state laws and regulations.