Republican Colorado Senator, Cory Gardner, announced this week that he is teaming up with Democratic Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren, on a bill that could reconcile the disagreement between federal and state cannabis laws.
In an interview with Yahoo News on Wednesday, Gardner said that he and Warren were leading a meeting later in the afternoon with a number of other Senators interested in finding a solution.
“It was clear that Elizabeth Warren and I were thinking about the same kind of approach on a federalism level,” Gardner said. “We’ve continued that work together.”
Earlier in the month, Gardner announced that President Trump told him during a phone call that the rescission of the Cole Memo would not interfere with Colorado’s legal marijuana industry, which has been legal in the state since 2012.
Gardner is known for his strong advocacy for states’ rights to govern their own cannabis laws. Earlier in the year, he threatened to block all Justice Department nominees after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo, which allowed states to determine their own cannabis laws. The standoff between Gardner and the Justice Department came to a close following the phone conversation between him and the President.
“His commitment was reconfirmed multiple times by the White House legislative director, Marc Short, as well as Sarah Huckabee Sanders during the live press briefing carried on national television,” Gardner told Yahoo News. “This is something the president has agreed to. I believe he will hold to his end of the bargain. And I believe we will also be able to work together on a federalist-based approach to resolve the conflict between federal and state law.”
Earlier this week, Gardner also co-sponsored the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, aiming to remove that form of cannabis from Schedule 1, a list of substance that includes heroin, and is under the strictest control by the federal government.
Hemp can be used for a variety of different purposes and with very low THC levels compared to marijuana, Gardner, sees no reason that this plant should ever have been on the Schedule 1 list and believes that hemp could help to boost the economy.
“We have historically low commodity prices right now. And if you can shift out of corn, which people are losing money on, and into hemp, where they may be able to make money, that means they’re able to stay on the farm,” said Gardner. “That means the next generation is able to participate in the family business. Right now, that legal cloud that’s over hemp may jeopardize that continuation of the family farm or family operation. This is a good step for diversity, economic opportunity and to make sure that we keep our agricultural roots strong.
The bipartisan bill that Gardner, Warren and other Senators are working on is a federalism bill that says if a states wants to move forward with medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, or hemp, that it is going to be carried out lawfully and it opts out of the deferral law of schedule 1. It doesn’t make any changes to Schedule 1 but makes it so that the state is no longer violating the law.
He told Yahoo News that the bill could be ready as early as late this week or in a couple of weeks from now.
Given Gardner’s history with the Attorney General, when asked if he was at all concerned about Sessions interfering since his conversation with the President, Gardner replied:
“I think the president of the United States, who the attorney general works for, has made it very clear what his objectives are. This is something the president said in 2016, reiterated to me in a very public fashion now. What we need to do now is not sit back with the status quo but work for a resolution of this federal-state conflict so we provide certainty once and for all.”