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Senator Cory Gardner Lifts Some of His “Cole Memo” Blockade After “Positive Conversations” with DOJ


Last week I discussed Colorado Senator Cory Gardner (R) and his blockade of Department of Justice appointments on The Marijuana Times Show. Senator Gardner initiated his blockade after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his action to rescind the famous “Cole Memo” and its protections of state-legal marijuana programs. Now, Senator Gardner says he is partially lifting his blockade as a sort of show of good faith after conversations with the DOJ.

“Since the Department of Justice rescinded the Cole memo, I have been working with the Department’s leadership, including Deputy Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Acting United States Attorney for Colorado on a path forward that respects states’ rights and clarifies the DOJ’s priorities regarding marijuana enforcement,” said Senator Cory Gardner in a press release. “Because we have had positive conversations, I have decided to lift my holds on the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, United States Attorneys, and United States Marshals as an act of good faith. My holds on all other DOJ nominees will remain in place as discussions continue.

“Let me be crystal clear: so long as the federal enforcement priorities detailed in the 2013 Cole Memorandum are adequately protected, the DOJ should respect the will of the states who have spoken overwhelmingly on this issue.  I will view the DOJ’s failure to do so as a direct contradiction of our positive conversations and will take action accordingly. While I have decided to lift my holds on these specific nominations, I will continue to lead a bipartisan group of colleagues to find a legislative solution. I remain optimistic that we will come to an agreement with the Department of Justice soon.”

As I pointed out last week, while some criticize Senator Gardner for his blockade, he is simply using the tools at his disposal as a U.S. Senator to fight back against what he sees as an encroachment against the right of his state to choose their own policy on cannabis.

The most important part of his statement, in my view, is where he says, “I will continue to lead a bipartisan group of colleagues to find a legislative solution.” We can talk all day about positive conversations and debates and temporary protections, but until federal law is changed regarding marijuana prohibition, major problems will remain. From causing banking issues to keeping state politicians from supporting marijuana law reform measures they might otherwise back, federal prohibition is a roadblock in many ways to the concept of states choosing their own cannabis policies.

Until national prohibition is repealed, hopefully lawmakers like Senator Gardner will continue to do whatever they can to fight federal encroachment on state marijuana laws.