Trump Likely to Support End to Federal Ban on Marijuana

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As the U.S. president was leaving Washington, D.C., Friday to attend the G-7 summit meeting in Canada, he suggested that perhaps it was time to bring Russia back into the group that expelled it four years ago following the invasion of Ukraine. That comment got all the headlines, but Trump also responded to a question related to lifting the federal ban on marijuana.

Trump said that he supports Colorado Senator Cory Gardner’s bill to lift the prohibition against marijuana. The president said, “I support Sen. Gardner. I know exactly what he’s doing. We’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes.” The chief Democratic co-sponsor of the bill is Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

That puts Trump at odds (again) with his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who is a long-time foe of legalizing marijuana and who has tried to get federal attorneys to ratchet up enforcement of federal laws against marijuana possession and use.

Gardner’s bill would essentially allow the states to pass their own legislation related to marijuana and forbid the federal government from prosecuting those businesses and individuals that comply with state laws. If passed, the legislation would enshrine in law the Obama administration policy outlined in what is known as the Cole memo.

In addition, the proposed legislation would give marijuana-related businesses access to federally chartered banks, allowing the businesses to open bank accounts and operate just like any other business. Currently marijuana-related businesses must pay taxes but because they cannot get bank accounts they have to pay in cash, and that’s not something the IRS encourages.

Will Trump keep his promise? That’s a question that won’t be answered until Congress passes the legislation. And that’s no sure thing either.

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