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This Senator Is Blocking DOJ Nominees Until Jeff Sessions Backs Off

February 7, 2018
(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
After a fruitless meeting on cannabis policy with US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator from Colorado is sticking to his aggressive checks-and-balances approach to stopping Sessions’ attack on state-legal cannabis.

US Sen. Cory Gardner has so far successfully blocked as many as 11 Trump administration appointees to the Justice Department by preventing them from making it to a Senate floor vote. His actions make good on a pledge he made a month ago to obstruct DOJ nominees until Sessions softens his stance on state cannabis laws.


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Gardner’s threat came in response to Sessions’ Jan. 4 decision to rescind the Cole memo, an Obama-era DOJ policy that insulated legal-cannabis states from federal interference. Gardner has maintained that Sessions promised him that he would leave the guideline intact.

“What Jeff Sessions said is he didn’t think it was on Trump’s agenda to do this, he didn’t think President Trump had the bandwidth to do this, and he had no plans to repeal the Cole memorandum,” Gardner told the Associated Press last month.

Gardner and Sessions met last month to discuss their differences on cannabis, but reportedly neither side gave ground. “I think the meeting kind of went as I expected to,” Gardner told Denver7. “I shared my states’ rights position with Attorney General Sessions, and he shared his concern about the Cole memorandum and why he rescinded it.”

“It may never resolve itself.”
US Sen. Chuck Grassley

While meetings continue between staff members for Gardner and the DOJ, so too does the senator’s blockade. If it continues, more than 20 other nominees for Justice Department-related jobs could get caught in the jam, the Denver Post reports.

US Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the committee responsible for pushing the nominations through, told the Post there’s little indication that the freeze will thaw anytime soon. “It may never resolve itself,” Grassley said.

By some measures, Gardner is an unlikely champion of state cannabis laws in the face of the Trump administration’s threats. He opposed Colorado’s own legalization measure in 2012 and has voted in line with President Trump’s position nearly 95% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. His decision to freeze Justice Department nominations will undoubtedly impact other Trump administration priorities. But so far, he’s standing firm.

“As you know, I opposed the legalization,” he told the Denver Post after his meeting with Sessions fell flat, “but the fact is, this is a states’ rights decision, and that’s the message I delivered very clearly to today to the attorney general.”


Liberty, Jobs, and Freedom: How Cannabis Became a Conservative Issue

Gardner has also come out in support of various measures in Congress that would protect state-legal cannabis from federal meddling. It’s unknown whether the success of any of those measures would be enough for Gardner to remove his block on Justice Department nominees.

Grassley told the Denver Post he disagreed with Gardner’s decision, but “I can understand why he did it.”

Ben Adlin's Bio Image

Ben Adlin

Ben Adlin is a Seattle-based writer and editor who specializes in cannabis politics and law. He was a news editor for Leafly from 2015-2019. Follow him on Twitter: @badlin

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    Jeff Sessions is just another ancient swamp creature and greedy corporate puppet. A Trump toady that belongs in a museum of ignorant people.We should all struggle to remove these revolting creatures from public office.

  • my opinion

    Sessions should respond, “You let the DOJ nominees through, or I will raid every single marijuana outlet in your state within the next week, confiscate all goods and prosecute every owner.”

    • calvet11

      That is probably the dumbest thing I’ve read in quite some time. So you support having a bunch of DEA Government Stormtroopers bust down the doors of a business that is selling medicine to sick people. In the immortal words of “Red” on “That 70’s Show” you sir are a DUMB ASS!

    • Danielle L Smartt

      Sessions needs to be locked in a room with only a screen showing all the scientific proof about the benefits of MJ And Hemp.

      The REAL studies, not the fakes he and the corporations he owns many shares of create.

      Let him out after about 6 months, which is the least it would take before he could view them all.

      Matter of historical fact according to government records that it was made illegal to provide jobs for government agents after prohibition was repealed.

      Also, he should be required to study which industries contributed big $$$ because the products they produce could be made better, easier and cheaper from Hemp than the way they made them.

      Hemp was made illegal along with marijuana.

      Paper is a prime example.
      Lasts well over 100 years, while that made from wood starts deteriorating and discoloring after about 25.

      Plastic made from Hemp lasts longer, does not use petroleum products.
      Also sledge hammers bounce off without doing damage. Many film clips of cars made from hemp plastic withstanding damage from the attempt.

      Ethanol and oil made from Hemp also cheaper, could replace oil for producing fuel. Cheaper because Hemp can produce 2-3 crops a year in many climates. Saves corn to be used for feed, which reduces cost of beef, pork, chicken.
      Ford used Hemp oil for many years.
      Lotus and other high end autos use Hemp plastic.

      Structures made from Hemp and concrete do not need as much insulation and save heating costs.

      Hemp seeds high in protein. Very beneficial in the human diet and could feed the starving of the world.

      All of which benefit the average human and bring down corporate profits.

      No wonder they did not want Hemp to be legal.

      There are thousands of ways Hemp could save the average person many$$ each year.

      CBD therapy reduces/eliminates Fibromyalgia symptoms without the side effects of prescription drugs.

      Also eliminates the need for antidepressants and antianxiety
      prescriptions. Helps to prevent suicide.

      Also can be used in cancer treatment. Great for treating MS.

      Seizures reduced greatly.
      Children have seen their seizures reduced from over 500 per day to lead than 50.

      Spent 2 years doing motor vehicle accident investigation.
      At that time, majority of accidents involving drugs were caused by alcohol and prescription meds.
      Still the same statistics. Nothing has changed.

      Domestic violence also 90-98% caused by same drugs.

      In 2 years only saw 1 accident and 0 domestic violence connected with marijuana.
      And I saw every emergency room report that came in, as part of my job.

      Jeff Sessions is so full of BS it is a wonder he does not stink up every room he walks into.

      And if you believe his crap, so are you!

      Study history and scientific studies instead of believing someone bought and paid for by Big Oil , Pharmaceutical Corporations , and the Timber Industry.

      I guarantee you will change your mind and be furious about all the tax dollars and lives wasted because of greed from coporations and the government’s desire to keep their agents employed.

      The only way you won’t change your mind is if you are too much of a coward to look it all up. Or too brainwashed to care about anyone other than yourself and your ego.

    • calvet11

      Troll !

  • Chris

    Why doesn’t Gardner just admit that his opposition in 2012 was misguided. For the most part, the only people getting hurt by legalization are the proprietors of MJ stores that are constantly having to look over their shoulders for fear of being robbed or worse because they don’t have a bank to park their cash in due to the absurd federal scheduling of cannabis.

  • Rob Woodside

    Now that the Republicans have stacked the Supreme Court and appointed most of the judges to positions they left vacant during Obama’s tenure, I’m not sure if Sessions cares very much. Already they control the courts for the next 40 years!!!

  • Vegas Steve

    Hope he sticks to his guns. Here is a representative that, despite his personal views, has recognized the will of the people and stands with them. We could all use more such representation.

  • Tom Ethen

    I stand behind Sen. Gardner’s decision. Nothing moves until this larger matter on Legalization is settled, and Sessions backs down. Like Trump has told us on the campaign trail, the decision of legalization should be left up to each and every individual state. don’t back-off your promises Mr. Trump, like we have seen so much of in the past elections. “BROKEN PROMISES”.