Colorado Senator Gardner Holds Department of Justice Hostage Over State Medical Marijuana Access

Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner has made headlines recently for his battle with Attorney General Jeff Sessions over medical marijuana access for states. Gardner vehemently opposes the most recent decision by Sessions to repeal the Obama-era Cole Memo which protected states with legalized marijuana from federal prosecution. The repeal of the Cole Memo means that the Department of Justice is no longer barred from spending federal funds to conduct raids, arrests, and prosecutions in states where medical marijuana is legal.

Why There Is A Showdown Between Republicans

To protest the Cole Memo rescission, Republican Senator Gardner has single handedly blocked the nomination of many Department of Justice appointees that Jeff Sessions wants.

Speaking about Gardner at a gathering of sheriffs, Sessions said, “We’re trying to confirm a number of important component heads at the Department of Justice. Our nominee to the National Security Division was approved unanimously in the committee. But because right now one senator’s concerns over unrelated issues – like reversing federal law against marijuana – we can’t even get a vote.”

Gardner represents Colorado which became the first state to legalize cannabis for recreational use in 2012. Gardner said he voted to appoint Sessions as Attorney General after receiving assurance that medical marijuana states would be left alone by the federal government.

When that promise was not kept, Gardner decided to protest by blocking Department of Justice nominees. While Gardner’s protests brought Sessions to the table last month, there was apparently “no breakthrough.”

What Happens Next

Sessions’ view of recreational and medical marijuana will not likely change any time soon. He has entrenched himself over his lengthy career on the anti-marijuana side of the argument. “I cannot and will not pretend that a duly enacted law of this country, like the federal ban on marijuana, does not exist. Marijuana is illegal in the United States, even in Colorado, California, and everywhere else in America.”

However, while Sessions will not change his views neither will U.S. citizens who support cannabis at the highest rate ever. There is no end in sight to the battle between Sessions and Gardner. Sessions has now begun to accuse Gardner of endangering national security by stopping the appointment of DOJ officials. This accusation raises the stakes in the feud and will likely lead to GOP pressure on Gardner to stop his protests.

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