On Friday, President Donald Trump publicly said that he would be willing to support a bipartisan bill by Congress to lift the federal ban on marijuana.
Historically, marijuana has been subject to a federal ban alongside LSD and heroin. Recently, some states have moved to legalize marijuana, placing the drug in a strange middle ground where it is both legal and illegal depending on the tier of law considered.
“I support Senator Gardner. I know exactly what he’s doing,” Trump told reporters, referring to Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado. “We’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes.”
President Trump’s remarks greatly deviate from his appointed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ stance on pot. Sessions has previously reversed the Obama-era hands-off marijuana policy to start cracking down on cannabis again.
“The previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission,” Sessions wrote in a memo allowing federal prosecutors to return to “previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.”
The president himself has been wishy-washy about marijuana. During his campaign, he has at times said he would respect states’ decisions on marijuana, while he would also criticize legalization efforts.
Senator Gardner wants to ensure that no matter what states decide, the federal government will keep its hands off.
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is another one of the bipartisan supporters of the measure. She said that Washington “needs to get out of the business of outlawing marijuana.”
With such a change, legal marijuana businesses in states like California would no longer have to worry about the looming threat of federal drug enforcement coming to sweep away their investments. This would also help with the fact that banks hesitate to do business with legal marijuana dispensaries because of fear of being prosecuted by the federal government.
By: Bryan Le, The Fix