Trump 'inclined' to back Congress plan to ease US ban on marijuana

A bipartisan Senate bill seeks to restore authority to states after Justice Department adopted a tougher federal stance

Jeremy B. White
San Francisco
Friday 08 June 2018 20:40 BST
Trump says he really supports senate marijuana legislation

Donald Trump has said he would support a bill letting states set marijuana policy, breaking yet again with his attorney general.

“I probably will end up supporting that, yes”, the president told reporters.

As a wave of states authorised recreational marijuana use under the Obama administration, the Department of Justice adopted a hands-off enforcement approach with a policy that eased off federal enforcement in states that had enacted strong cannabis controls.

Attorney general Jeff Sessions reversed that lenient stance, angering legal marijuana states whose elected officials said Mr Sessions - a longtime drug hardliner - was defying the will of voters and trampling on state autonomy.

But Sen Corey Gardner, a Colorado Republican, said earlier this year that the president pledged to him to not crack down on states that had legalised marijuana - effectively undercutting Mr Sessions. A bipartisan group that includes Mr Gardner has since introduced a bill to restore authority to states, which Mr Gardner said was intended to override the federal government “closing its eyes and plugging its ears while 46 states have acted” to allow medical or recreational marijuana.

“In 2012, Coloradans legalized marijuana at the ballot box and the state created an apparatus to regulate the legal marijuana industry,” Mr Gardner said in a statement. “But because of the one-size-fits-all federal prohibition, state decisions like this put Colorado and other states at odds with the federal government”.

Speaking to reporters as he departed for Canada, Mr Trump said “I really do” believe he would back the measure.

“I support Senator Gardner. I know exactly what he’s doing”, Mr Trump said.

Cynthia Nixon wants to legalise marijuana in New York

While tens of millions of Americans now live in states that allow recreational cannabis, the federal Controlled Substances Act still prohibits marijuana possession and categorises it in the most dangerous tier of intoxicants.

That has left states trying to strike a balance in an effort to avoid federal raids and prosecutions while still honouring voter-passed initiatives allowing cannabis. During his presidential campaign, Mr Trump repeatedly said the issue should be left to states.

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