WASHINGTON — Marijuana has enjoyed some head winds lately, even as regulating it faces an uncertain future in the Trump administration.
Over the past week, Trump promised not to go after marijuana suppliers and users who are obeying their state laws, former House speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced his formerly icy views toward the drug have thawed, and top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell pushed harder for legalizing the farming of hemp, pot’s non-psychoactive relative.
Marijuana legalization advocates say they’re cheered by the recent developments — and particularly by the president’s statements last week, which provided some clarity into how aggressively his Justice Department might go after states that have defied the federal prohibition on marijuana use.
“This news should make states more comfortable implementing their legalization programs,” said Don Murphy, director of conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project, a group that advocates for removing criminal penalties for pot use. “It should also serve as a rallying cry for lawmakers to pass comprehensive legislation that leaves marijuana policy to the states permanently.”
In January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions set his sights on the several dozen states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal, announcing federal prosecutors can decide for themselves whether to press cases against growers, sellers or users for violating federal law. The posture outraged lawmakers whose states have legalized marijuana, including Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who swore to block Trump’s Justice Department nominees in retribution.
But Gardner has backed down, saying Trump promised him that despite the Sessions memo, federal prosecutors would not target the marijuana industry in Colorado. The president’s assurances to Gardner directly contradict Sessions’ posture, revealing yet another rift between Trump and members of his administration.
“Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states’ rights to decide for themselves how