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Trump Agreement with Colorado Senator a Positive Sign for the Cannabis Industry

The White House signals a relaxing of federal cannabis enforcement laws in states where marijuana use has been legalized.

On April 13, 2018, U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) announced that he and President Trump have reached an agreement concerning the protection of Colorado's substantial cannabis industry from federal prosecution efforts.

In exchange, Sen. Gardner agreed to release his hold on nominations for U.S. Department of Justice positions.

Sen. Gardner imposed his hold in January 2018, in response to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' revocation of the Cole Memorandum. The memorandum, issued in 2013 by then-Attorney General James Cole, stated that, with certain exceptions, the Justice Department would not enforce federal marijuana prohibition in states that "legalized marijuana in some form and ... implemented strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession of marijuana."

In January, Attorney General Sessions publicly indicated that the Cole Memorandum’s protections would no longer apply, and that United States Attorneys were free to prosecute persons in the cannabis business, despite compliance with state laws regulating cannabis.

Sen. Gardner reported that, in their agreement, “President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all. Because of these commitments, I have informed the Administration that I will be lifting my remaining holds on Department of Justice nominees.” The agreement was subsequently confirmed by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The agreement is a significant step toward protecting patients' rights to use medical marijuana pursuant to the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. Legal observers on both sides of the legalized cannabis debate will be monitoring any Congressional action on this issue.

If you have questions concerning this development, please contact marijuana business attorney Janet Jackim at 480-425-2616 or by email.