Trump signals support for legislation easing US ban on pot




 

LOS ANGELES (AP) - President Donald Trump said Friday that he was inclined to support a bipartisan effort in Congress to ease the U.S. ban on marijuana, a proposal that would dramatically reshape the nation's legal landscape for pot users and businesses.

The federal ban that puts marijuana on the same level as LSD and heroin has created a conflict with about 30 states that have legalized pot in some form, creating a two-tiered enforcement system at the state and federal levels.

The legislation would ensure states have the right to determine the best approach to marijuana within their borders, but some U.S. restrictions would remain, including sales of non-medical pot to people under 21.

The proposal introduced Thursday has support from members of Congress from both parties, including Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado.

"I support Senator Gardner. I know exactly what he's doing," Trump told reporters in Washington, when asked about the legislation. "We're looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes."

The president's remarks place him in conflict with his own Justice Department and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who staunchly opposes marijuana. He lifted an Obama administration policy and freed federal prosecutors to more aggressively pursue cases in states that have legalized marijuana.

Asked about the measure in an interview with Colorado Public Radio, Sessions said, "We'll see how far it goes and how much support there is. ... My view is clear: The federal law remains in effect nationwide, just as it does for heroin and cocaine."

The proposal's prospects in Congress were unclear.

Gardner, who heads the Senate Republicans' campaign arm, is close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Kentucky Republican has consistently opposed legalizing marijuana but has called hemp and marijuana "two entirely separate plants."

The bill would amend the definition of marijuana in federal drug law to exclude industrial hemp, which like marijuana is part of the cannabis plant family but doesn't contain the THC that gives pot users the high. Hemp produces the non-intoxicating cannabinoids, or CBDs, that have become a health rage and a lucrative crop in Kentucky and other states.

Despite his comments, Trump has sent mixed signals on the drug: While campaigning for president, he pledged to respect states that legalized marijuana, but he also has criticized legalization and implied it should be stopped.

"I don't think anyone would make a bet on the long-term validity of an offhand remark by the president that he 'probably' would support something," said Kevin A. Sabet, head of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a nonpartisan group opposed to marijuana legalization. "I think he'll find out soon from ... victims of marijuana addiction and impaired driving that this is not as popular as Cory Gardner is leading him to believe."

Trump's remarks Friday echo a promise that Gardner said he received privately from the president in April to support legislation protecting the marijuana industry in states that have legalized the drug.

Gardner said the measure would ensure U.S. authorities respect the will of voters in each state, whether laws provide for legalization or prohibition.

He said in a statement released Thursday that the federal government "is closing its eyes and plugging its ears" to spreading legalization.

Another co-sponsor of the measure, Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, said in a statement that Washington "needs to get out of the business of outlawing marijuana."

California, home to one in eight Americans, launched the nation's largest legal marijuana marketplace on Jan. 1 but thousands of businesses that have been licensed are still facing the threat of federal prosecution.

A major problem stemming from the federal ban: Major banks have been reluctant to do business with marijuana companies, fearing it could lead to prosecution. In California, for example, paying taxes and other transactions are often carried out in cash, sometimes in vast amounts.

___

Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi in Denver and Kevin Freking in Washington contributed.

___

Blood is a member of AP's marijuana beat team. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MichaelRBloodAP . Follow AP's complete marijuana coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LegalMarijuana

COMMENTS

More Related News

Sanders says she was told to leave Virginia restaurant
Sanders says she was told to leave Virginia restaurant

WASHINGTON (AP) - White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Saturday in a tweet that she was booted from a Virginia restaurant because she works for President Donald Trump.

Cohen
Cohen's photo with Tom Arnold fuels Trump tape speculation
  • Tech
  • 2018-06-23 02:24:48Z

President Donald Trump's former longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen retweeted a photo of himself with comedian Tom Arnold, who is working on a TV show to hunt down recordings of the president, fueling speculation Friday that Cohen has secret tapes of Trump and is willing to share them. Last

Trump tells GOP to
Trump tells GOP to 'stop wasting their time' on immigration

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump on Friday told his fellow Republicans in Congress to "stop wasting their time" on immigration legislation until after November, dismissing his party's struggle to surmount internal divisions.

First lady visits migrant children at Texas detention center
First lady visits migrant children at Texas detention center

Melania Trump made an unannounced visit to a Texas facility Thursday, talking with children and staff as she got a first-hand look at some of the migrant children sent there by the U.S. government after their families entered the country illegally. The first lady's stop at Upbring New Hope Children

First lady Melania Trump visits detained immigrant children
First lady Melania Trump visits detained immigrant children
  • US
  • 2018-06-21 17:53:13Z

Melania Trump, whose pressure was a factor in getting her husband, U.S. President Donald Trump, to reverse his policy of separating immigrant children from parents, on Thursday visited a border detention facility where some of those children were being held. The first lady left the White House quietly in the morning and flew to Texas for the visit, a day after Trump signed an executive order keeping families who illegally cross the U.S. border with Mexico together. The trip to Texas was the most high-profile public appearance Mrs. Trump had made since undergoing a surgical procedure for a benign kidney condition on May 14.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Economy

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.