GOP senator says Trump agreed to deal on marijuana legalization

GOP senator says Trump agreed to deal on marijuana legalization

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerOvernight Defense: White House threatens to veto House Iran bills | Dems 'frustrated' after Iran briefing | Lawmakers warn US, UK intel sharing at risk after Huawei decision Foreign Relations Democrats 'deeply frustrated' after Iran briefing GOP leader warns lawmakers on fundraising: 'Getting our ass kicked' MORE (R-Colo.) said on Friday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet MORE has assured him that he will support legislation that would protect against federal interference in state marijuana laws.

In exchange, Gardner said he has agreed to lift his remaining holds on Justice Department nominees.

"Late Wednesday, I received a commitment from the President that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole memo will not impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry," Gardner said in a statement.


"Furthermore, President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all."

Gardner, whose home state has legalized recreational marijuana, vowed in January to block appointments to the Justice Department after Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsLawmaker wants Chinese news outlet to register as foreign agent Trump-aligned group launches ad campaign hitting Doug Jones on impeachment ICE subpoenas Denver law enforcement: report MORE rescinded an Obama-era policy that paved the way for states to legalize recreational pot.

That policy, outlined in the so-called Cole memo, discouraged federal prosecutors from bringing marijuana-related charges in states that have legalized the substance.

Marc Short, the White House legislative affairs director, told The Washington Post in an interview on Friday that the deal between Trump and Gardner was necessary to fill key positions at the Justice Department. 

"Clearly, we’ve expressed our frustration with the delay with a lot of our nominees and feel that too often, senators hijack a nominee for a policy solution," Short told the Post. "So we’re reluctant to reward that sort of behavior. But at the same time, we’re anxious to get our team at the Department of Justice."

Gardner's blockade held up the confirmations of about 20 nominees at the Justice Department. 

Short also told the Post that the president respects "Colorado’s right to decide for themselves how to best approach this issue." 

While dozens of states have legalized marijuana in one form or another, the substance remains federally prohibited.