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Donald Trump Teases Support for Bipartisan Medical Marijuana Bill

In a brief conversation with the White House press pool Friday, the President said he “would probably support” a new legislative bid for a states’ rights approach to cannabis legalization.

Adam Drury

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Donald Trump Teases Support for Bipartisan Medical Marijuana Bill
Gage Skidmore/ Flickr

Just one day after Sens. Cory Gardner and Elizabeth Warren formally announced a bi-partisan bill to protect states’ rights to legalize cannabis, President Donald Trump hinted he might support the legislation if it can clear Congress. The President’s comment is, in fact, the third he has made in reference to Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s idea for a “states’ rights” approach to marijuana legalization. And now that the legislation is officially in the pipeline, Trump’s latest remarks suggest he hasn’t withdrawn his support.

Sen. Gardner Is Keeping Pressure On Trump To Support A States’ Rights Approach To Cannabis Legalization

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner opposed his state’s efforts to legalize adult-use cannabis. But in a recent interview with NBC’s Morning Joe, Sen. Gardner acknowledged that “there’s no going back” on the issue of legalization.

Recognizing Coloradans’ desire for a legal and regulated cannabis program, Gardner teamed up with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to launch the STATES Act.

The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act would both protect states’ legal cannabis operations from federal prosecution and make essential services like banking and insurance available to the industry.

Sen. Gardner sees marijuana legalization as an opportunity to create a strongly federalist policy that lets states chart their own course on the issue. And framing legalization as fundamentally about states’ rights has also appealed to President Trump, Gardner said.

April was the first occasion Gardner was able to coerce support for his idea from the Trump administration. After Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a federal policy reversal on marijuana that threatened states’ legal medical and adult-use cannabis programs, Gardner held up confirmations for Sessions’ Justice Department nominees.

Sen. Gardner only ended his standoff with the Justice Department after Trump gave assurances his administration would not go after Colorado’s legal cannabis businesses. Furthermore, Gardner said Trump told him he would support a legislative solution with a states’ rights approach, the Washington Post reported.

Sen. Gardner also checked in with Trump on Wednesday, before he and Sen. Warren formally announced the STATES Act. Gardner reminded Trump about his previous comments and told the President about the aims of the new legislation. “He liked the idea—the concept,” Gardner said.

Will Donald Trump Support the Bill?

In a 20-minute exchange with reporters at the White House, the press pool asked President Trump about the Warner-Gardner legislation. “I probably will end up supporting it,” Trump told reporters, according to The Denver Post.

Gardner and Warren were pleased by Trump’s comment on the STATES Act. They hope the President’s remarks and the bill’s bi-partisan support will give it a boost in the Senate.

Legislators in the lower chamber are also supporting the Warner-Gardner bill. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oreg.) and David Joyce (R-Ohio) are sponsoring a bipartisan companion bill in the House. But their bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act to prevent the federal government from prosecuting individuals or entities that comply with state, U.S. territory, D.C. and tribal cannabis law.

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