- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 19, 2018

President Trump remains poised to sign a bill resolving conflicting state and federal marijuana laws, a leading proponent of the legislation said Tuesday.

Sen. Cory Gardner, Colorado Republican, made the claim during an interview touting his Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, a bipartisan bill that would reform federal marijuana policies in light of most of the country legalizing the plant for medicinal or recreational purposes.

“I just spoke with the president again. He supports this effort. He would sign this bill if it were to come before him on his desk,” Mr. Gardner told Cheddar, an internet-based news network.

Introduced in June with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, the bipartisan bill would amend the U.S. Controlled Substances Act to let states set their own rules for regulating marijuana without risking federal interference on account of the plant’s status as a Schedule 1 substance.

Mr. Gardner said in April that the president would support a bill similar to the STATES Act, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders subsequently described the senator’s statement to reporters afterward as “accurate.”

Neither the White House nor a representative for Mr. Gardner immediately returned messages seeking further information about the recent conversation referenced by the senator.

Mr. Gardner mentioned the president’s support for the STATES Act during an interview conducted shortly before he unsuccessfully attempted to add a version of the bill onto a criminal justice reform bill passed by the Senate later Tuesday.

Mr. Gardner sought unanimous consent to consider including similar language as an amendment to the reform bill, but his request was quickly quashed by Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican and outgoing chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who called it “inconsistent with current federal law” and “a backdoor to legalization.”

“This isn’t a fluke, the American people have spoken, and this is happening,” Mr. Gardner said after his proposed amendment was defeated. “I will not give up this fight.”

Thirty-three states have passed laws permitting the medicinal use of marijuana to differing degrees, including 10 that have passed separate laws allowing adults to use marijuana for recreational purposes.

Despite being legal in most of the country, however, marijuana’s placement as a Schedule 1 drug has created a myriad of complications due to the stringent federal rules and restrictions, including notably obstacles limiting state-legal marijuana industries from doing business with federally licensed financial institutions, among other issues.

Mr. Trump previously said publicly that he believed marijuana legalization should be settled “state by state.”

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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