Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) represents a state with legal weed. That being said, he doesn’t appreciate Jeff Sessions’ new war on pot.
In a speech delivered from the U.S. Senate floor, Sen. Gardner pledged to use his power to dissent against any and all judicial appointments requiring Senate confirmation as long as Attorney General Jeff Sessions is using Department of Justice resources to oppose state-level cannabis laws.
“I am obligated by the people of Colorado to take all steps necessary to protect the state of Colorado and their rights,” Gardner said. “And that’s why I will be putting today a hold on every single nomination from the Department of Justice until Attorney General Jeff Sessions lives up to the commitment that he made to me in my pre-confirmation meeting with him — the conversation we had that was specifically about this issue, of states’ rights in Colorado.”
Sen. Cory Gardner: "I will be putting today a hold on every single nomination from the Dept. of Justice until Attorney General Jeff Sessions lives up to the commitment that he made to me" on legalized marijuana in Colorado. https://t.co/NkJuIoh4fP pic.twitter.com/GSE8N85YoP
— ABC News (@ABC) January 4, 2018
In 2012, Colorado became the first state in the U.S. (along with Washington state) to legalize marijuana for recreational use through a ballot initiative. That initiative, Amendment 64, passed overwhelmingly, with 55 percent in support and 44 percent opposed. Since then, legal marijuana has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue, which is allocated toward public school budgets.
Nationwide, legal marijuana is extraordinarily popular, with 64 percent of Americans in favor of it and even a majority of Republicans voicing support for pot legalization. Politically, this means Republicans in states with legal cannabis like Sen. Gardner are obligated to defend it, given their constituents’ support of the policy. In 2015, for example, Senator Dean Heller (R-Nevada) publicly signed on to a letter voicing support for legalizing marijuana for medical use at the federal level. Nevada legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2016.
As of this writing, Sessions has not yet responded to Sen. Gardner’s demand. Gardner is up for re-election in 2020.
Michael Boone is a freelance journalist and columnist writing about politics, government, race, and media. He graduated from Texas Southern University’s School of Communication, and lives in Houston’s Third Ward.