Trump Announces He'll Likely Support Rolling Back Federal Marijuana Ban
President Donald Trump said Friday that he could support legislation that would end the federal ban on marijuana use.
During a brief media availability before leaving for the G-7 summit of leading industrial nations, Trump was asked whether he supports marijuana legislation proposed a bipartisan group of legislators by Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican.
“I really do. I support Senator Gardner. I know exactly what he’s doing; we’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes,” Trump said, according to the White House pool report.
Gardner’s legislation is designed to end the current situation in which more than 24 states have legalized marijuana even though the federal government outlaws it.
His proposal, which was introduced Thursday, would allow each state to set its own policy on the drug, Fox News reported.
“This is a states’ right issue,” Gardner said Friday in a statement, according to NBC.
“I was glad to hear the president’s comments this morning and his continued interest in an approach that respects the will of the voters in each state regarding the prohibition or legalization of marijuana,” he said.
Our bill does not legalize marijuana. Instead, it allows the principle of federalism to prevail as the founding fathers intended and leaves the marijuana question up to the states. Learn more here: https://t.co/gRckNUKSic
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) June 7, 2018
Supporters of legalizing marijuana were also encouraged by Trump’s comment.
“To have a bill introduced by two prominent members of both political parties that would allow states to set their own marijuana laws and less than 24 hours later have the president say he’s more than open to the proposal means that we are closer than ever to passing meaningful marijuana reform at the federal level,” Drug Policy Alliance policy expert Michael Liszewski said.
Although laws aimed at marijuana legalization have been brought to Congress, none have passed. One expert said this time may be different.
“The president’s comments may well break the dam,” said Tom Angell, founder of the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. “Hopefully President Trump’s support will be enough to convince House and Senate leaders to at least allow a vote on this bill,” he said.
Trump’s comment is at odds with a strict anti-pot policy pursued by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, The New York Times noted.
“I, as you know, am dubious about marijuana,” Sessions said in 2017, according to Politico. “States can pass whatever laws they choose, but I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.”
Although as president Trump has backed full enforcement of federal laws, his Friday comment is similar to remarks he made as a candidate for president.
“In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” Trump said during an October 2015 event in Nevada, according to The Washington Post.
“Marijuana is such a big thing,” Trump said then. “I think medical should happen — right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.”
Trump noted at the time that Colorado’s legalization of cannibas was still somewhat of an experiment.
“And of course you have Colorado,” Trump said. “And I love Colorado and the people are great, but there’s a question as to how it’s all working out there, you know? That’s not going exactly trouble-free. So I really think that we should study Colorado, see what’s happening.”
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