Denver7’s Blair Miller reports after Sen. Cory Gardner’s much-anticipated meeting today with Attorney General Jeff Sessions about federal marijuana policy–as readers know, Sessions last week rescinded the Cole Memorandum that allowed for a hands-off approach to enforcement of federal law in states where marijuana is legalized. In response, Gardner announced a hold on all Justice Department nominees until the guidance in Cole was reinstated:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions wasn’t swayed to immediately change his mind about his decision to rescind the Cole Memo after Wednesday’s meeting with Sen. Cory Gardner despite the Colorado Republican’s threat to withhold Justice Department nominees.
“I think the meeting kind of went as I expected it to,” Gardner told Denver7 after the Wednesday morning summit. “I shared my states’ rights position with Attorney General Sessions, and he shared his concern about the Cole Memorandum and why he rescinded it, and he also reiterated that the US attorneys will be in the position to make these determinations.”
Sessions agreed to meet with Gardner Wednesday after Gardner loudly balked at the decision to rescind the 2013 memo that protects states where marijuana is legal from extraneous federal enforcement.
Gardner has also told Sessions he will hold up Justice Department nominees until Sessions took a step back, though he admitted Tuesday that if the nominees have “overwhelming support” that it would “be difficult to stop them.” [Pols emphasis]
As of today, Blair reports, Gardner’s Justice Department holds remain–but this last statement signals clearly that Gardner’s holds either won’t last long or won’t matter. For all the praise Gardner received after making his bellicose threats last Friday, that would be a sheepish end that should get at least as much press attention.
Because as it turns out, maybe he really didn’t deserve all that praise.
With that said, it would be a mistake to rule out entirely the possibility that legislation to tie the Justice Department’s hands in legal marijuana states will come about as a result of Sessions’ threats. As of now, Gardner has paid only lip service to the protection of Colorado’s marijuana industry–and without the kind of confrontation marijuana supporters hoped Gardner would lead against Sessions last week, the most likely outcome now is an uneasy status quo that may well outlast Sessions’ tenure as Attorney General.
We’ll say it again and again: talk is cheap. And just like when Mike Coffman dropped his bid to force a discharge petition to vote on legislation to protect undocumented DREAMer students, Cory Gardner is getting credit that the facts of the situation do not appear to warrant.
If and when that changes, we’ll gratefully acknowledge it. But it hasn’t happened yet.