BREAKING: Gardner Abandons DOJ Marijuana Holds

UPDATE: Denver7’s Blair Miller reports that Cory Gardner is releasing his holds on the high-priority nominees Jeff Sessions complained about being held up, though apparently some lower-priority holds will continue:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner is dropping his holds on certain Justice Department nominees “as an act of good faith” amid ongoing conversations with the deputy U.S. attorney general and the acting U.S. attorney for Colorado.

Gardner said he would lift his holds on the assistant attorney general for national security, U.S. attorneys and U.S. marshals, but said his holds “on all other DOJ nominees will remain in place as discussions continue.”

…He said that his “positive conversations” with Rosenstein and Troyer led him to Thursday’s decision. But he said that people shouldn’t construe the decision as backing off his thoughts that there should be solutions put in place to protect Colorado’s marijuana programs. [Pols emphasis]

Because obviously, the best way to negotiate is to give up your most valuable bargaining chips.


Senator Cory Gardner (R).

We told you this was coming. As the AP reports:

Colorado’s Republican U.S. senator says there’s been enough progress on negotiations over marijuana with the Trump administration that he will stop blocking nominees for some jobs in the Justice Department.

Cory Gardner used his power as a senator to freeze department nominations last month after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked Obama-era protections for states that have broadly legalized marijuana.

Gardner said Sessions needed to re-establish protections for the industry. Gardner told The Associated Press on Thursday that recent talks make him confident the department won’t change the way it enforces federal laws in Colorado and other states that allow adults to use cannabis recreationally.

News reports as recently as yesterday documented the continuing impasse between Sen. Cory Gardner and Attorney General Jeff Sessions over rescinding the Obama-era Cole Memorandum dictating a hands-off policy toward legal marijuana states. Gardner specifically stated in a Senate floor speech that he would hold Justice Department nominees until the Cole memorandum was reinstated.

Since that time, however, pressure from law enforcement groups and conservative supporters of Sessions has built on Gardner to release his DOJ holds. On Tuesday, Jeff Sessions went public with criticism of Gardner’s actions, complaining that the holds were hampering his ability to fill critical positions.

And today, Gardner announced he would release the DOJ holds for which he earned nationwide thanks from marijuana advocates. Without getting what he demanded. The Cole memo has not been reinstated, nor will it be now. The revised guidance from Sessions  to U.S. Attorneys that provoked widespread fears of a marijuana crackdown remains operative. The industry has no real assurance other than Sessions’ apparent word to Gardner–which Gardner already blasted Sessions for breaking in the past.

Anybody who is surprised by Gardner’s lack of courage down the stretch, please raise your hands.

Nobody should be raising their hands.

34 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. unnamed says:

    I'm surprised he didn't fold like a cheap suit sooner.  Cue nutlid: pot bad. Discrimination in the name of imposing your hate on others and calling it religious freedom and conscience is great.

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      Due process. Lock her up!

    • ModeratusModeratus says:

      Marijuana is illegal under federal law. We should not be jeopardizing national security. Gardner was running out of my patience and I'm glad he saw reason before something bad happened.

      • unnamed says:

        Too late.  Something bad already happened yesterday in Florida.  Not due to marijuana.


        How does legal weed jeopardize national security?  Can you provide an intelligent answer to that?

      • VoyageurVoyageur says:

        Read the 9th and 10th amendments, imbecile.

        (The imbecile in question is moddy.)

        • unnamed says:

          Why should he?  He will tell you the 2nd Amendment is the only one that matters.

        • Old Time Dem says:

          FFS, the 9th and 10th amendments have nothing to do with this. It is absolutely settled law that the feds can prosecute marijuana crimes under federal law, regardless of marijuana's status under state law.

          In Gonzales v. Raich, the Supreme Court upheld (under the Commerce Clause) the power of federal authorities to prosecute home growing of medical marijuana in a state (California) that had decriminalized marijuana. The dissenters would have held that homegrown weed was outside of the scope of the Commerce Clause; there would have been no doubt among the dissenters that the feds could prosecute commercial growing and selling.

          Forbearance by the DOJ, as the Cole memorandum set forth, was at best a temporary solution. Congress has to act or the legal pot industry in Colorado and other states will be subject to the whims of the DOJ and the local U.S. attorney.


          • VoyageurVoyageur says:

            The 9th and 10th amendments ensure that states have the right to go beyond the federal constitution and create new and additional rights for their citizens.   I know you disagree, Old Time, but the point is what the purpose of the constitution was and the meaning of these amendments.   Right wingers usually pretend to care about them and to guard states rights.  The war on drugs has abused many parts of the constitution but none more than the ninth and tenth amendments.

            • Old Time Dem says:

              So if Alabama were to legalize discrimination, you think that the federal government couldn't prosecute violations of the federal civil rights laws in Alabama? Or a federal assault weapons ban couldn't be enforced in a state that didn't also have an assault weapons ban?

              You don't have a clue as to what the 9th and 10th amendments mean.



              • VoyageurVoyageur says:

                To put it bluntly, old time, you need a course in con law.  States can give extra rights, but must at least match the federal.  Both the Colorado version of the first amendment and the second amendment are more expansive than their federal counterparts.  

                Sorry, clueless one, but if you were right, the feds woild not have needed a constitutional amendment to ban alcohol.  But they did because they had no enumerated power to ban alcohol and state rights, embodied in those two amendments you can' t bring yourself to read, were controlling.

                Next time, do ten minutes of research before making yourself look like a fool.


                • Old Time Dem says:

                  I've pointed you in the direction of Gonzales v. Raich twice. But apparently you know your con law better than a majority of the Supreme Court. Although you have Justice Thomas on your side.

                  Bluster and insults are all you've got. I'll go with the Supreme Court on this one.


                  • VoyageurVoyageur says:

                    You still haven't answered about how your beloved fugitive slave law is working out, or why the alcohol prohibition required a constitutional amend but marijuana prohibition can be done by bureaucratic whim.   Also, lopez has to shock your faith in the unlimited power of the federal government.  

                    The Supreme Upheld the georgia sodomy law, then reversed.  Public opinion, once anti-gay, shifted and the high court decided there is a right to privacy after all– and then legalized gay marriage.

                    Read the Cato friend of the court brief in Raich and you will see that the unchecked federal government's days are limited.

                    Oh, well, you'll always have the Palmer Red Raids and the Dred Scott ruling to warm you on a cold winter night.  And your video of Reefer Madness.

                    • Old Time Dem says:

                      Add bullshit and non sequitur to blather and insults.

                      I've described the current state of the law: the Supreme Court has upheld federal prosecutions in states that have legalized pot. That is a fact. If you can't tell the difference in legal authority between a Supreme Court opinion and an amicus brief, you're an imbecile.

                      In addition , you appear to be unable to distinguish between an accurate description of the current state of the law, and whether or not I support the implications or policy of that current state of the law.

                      Others have alluded to the fact that you're not actually an imbecile. If that is so, then you're just a troll.

                      On the other hand, I haven't seen much evidence that you are not, in fact, an imbecile and, of course, you can be be both.

                      Whatever applies to you –moron, troll, or both: fuck off. Life is too short to be engaging with the wretched pieces of shit like you who infest the internet.


            • Old Time Dem says:

              BTW, it was the Civil War–not the war on drugs–that pretty much settled the question of whether states can nullify federal law.

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        Shorter Moldy: "Pot evil.  Killing children in schools FREEDOM."

      • RepealAndReplace says:

        Gardner was running out of my patience and I'm glad he saw reason before something bad happened.

        Change the course, Senator. Before something bad happens.

  2. bullshit!bullshit! says:

    Gardner got into this with no exit strategy and got burned. He's not as good a politician as people think he is.

  3. spaceman65 says:

    Hard to hold the line without a spine.


  4. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    Argh wrong post.

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