Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Friday, June 8, 2018

"Trump’s Endorsement Of A New Marijuana Bill Is A Real F-You To Jeff Sessions"

The title of this post is the headline of this BuzzFeed article which is as astute as is it crass.  Here are excerpts:

President Donald Trump "really" supports new legislation in Congress that would let state marijuana legalization thrive, untouched by the Justice Department, he said Friday.  The endorsement was a jolt for the bipartisan bill, but it also jabbed at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has relentlessly threatened a pot crackdown and would be hamstrung and humiliated by the measure.

Trump has carped about Sessions recusing himself from Justice Department's Russia probe.  But the president has been unwilling to fire him, and Sessions has refused to quit, leaving Trump to explore ways to snub and belittle the attorney general. Trump’s eagerness to sign the bill may be another effort to flog Sessions, roughly the equivalent of kicking a dog while it's tethered to a stake in the yard.

Formally titled the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act, the bill filed Thursday is sponsored in part by Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican.  "I support Senator Gardner," Trump said before hopping on Marine One Friday morning. "I know exactly what he's doing; we're looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes."

Dubbed the STATES Act, the bill riffs on popular conservative ideas about state sovereignty and would decree that the Controlled Substances Act cannot apply to people and businesses — including growers and stores — complying with state or tribal pot legalization laws.  A bipartisan companion bill was also filed in the House.

The bill responds to Sessions’ decision in January to rescind an Obama-era policy that tolerated pot businesses that follow state laws.  Sessions followed up by insisting the Justice Department has the right to enforce federal law.  The irony for Sessions is that the STATES Act probably wouldn't exist — certainly not with bipartisan backing — were it not for Sessions' own policy positions and saber rattling.

Prior related posts:

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/marijuana_law/2018/06/trumps-endorsement-of-a-new-marijuana-bill-is-a-real-f-you-to-jeff-sessions.html

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