Trump overrules Sessions: DOJ won’t target marijuana in states like Colorado where the drug is legal

Trump overrules Sessions: DOJ won’t target marijuana in states like Colorado where the drug is legal
How did this shift come about? Was Trump persuaded on the federalist merits of letting states take the lead on setting marijuana policy? Or did Cory Gardner’s hardball tactics of blockading Senate confirmation of DOJ nominees until the White House reversed itself win the day? Or … did POTUS realize that few things would piss off his least favorite cabinet nominee more than easing off the war on weed? If so, border hawks should start urging Sessions to take a strong “please don’t build the wall” line in public. To be fair to Sessions, his determination to enforce federal pot laws in states where it’s legal has been overstated. All he said when he rescinded the Obama DOJ’s hands-off policy was that the local U.S. Attorneys in each state should use their discretion in prosecuting offenders. Last month he watered that down further by urging U.S. Attorneys not to bother with “small marijuana cases.” He’s not demanding that the DEA start rounding up potheads in Denver. But even so: The last part is big news, if true. A federal law requiring the DOJ to defer to states on marijuana enforcement would go a long way towards destigmatizing the drug; if you’re pro-legalization, or at least pro-decriminalization at the federal level, that’s obviously a major step. (“We may now be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” said one prominent Colorado legalization advocate.) It’d also bring President Trump back into line with candidate Trump’s campaign promises. WaPo flagged this short clip from summer 2016 in its story about this today: Marijuana stocks surged on news of the new policy, which is what you’d expect when an industry in perpetual legal limbo gets a jolt towards legitimacy. One obvious question, though: Is Trump serious about this or is it another example of him telling someone (in this case Gardner) what they want to hear when they’re right in front of him, only to reverse himself privately five minutes later? Legalization advocates are cautious: The case for optimism here is that this isn’t an out-of-the-blue reversal a la Trump telling Larry Kudlow to take a look at rejoining TPP. The legalization side has a powerful advocate in Gardner, a senator from a swing state and current chair of the NRSC. If Trump were to reverse himself again, presumably Gardner would reinstate his hold on Trump nominees in the Senate. He has leverage to make sure POTUS keeps his promise. The case for pessimism is that congressional compromise on culture-war issues is always hard and this is, after all, a midterm year. Ryan and McConnell might conclude that they have enough problems this fall already that they shouldn’t do anything that might risk alienating senior citizens. Even if it looks like a “let the states decide” bill on marijuana might have 218 votes in the House, Ryan could invoke the Hastert Rule to say that unless a majority of his own caucus supports it, it’s not coming to the floor. He should consider two things, though. One: Letting the states lead o

Trump overrules Sessions: DOJ won’t target marijuana in states like Colorado where the drug is legal