Trump: Yes, I’ll probably back Elizabeth Warren’s bill to force the feds to follow state marijuana laws
My God. Between this answer and his pardon outreach to NFL players, he’s turning woke. Nonzero chance now that Trump ends up inviting Kaepernick to the White House, they get baked together, and somehow the meeting concludes with Marcus Garvey getting pardoned.
Soon he’ll shift from arguing that kneeling during the anthem should be forbidden to arguing that it should be mandatory.
If you’re thinking “Why the hell would POTUS back a weed bill championed by Fauxcahontas?”, the answer is that it’s not just Warren’s bill. It’s also Cory Gardner’s. And Gardner and Trump have a little arrangement.
“(I) probably will end up supporting” it, Trump told reporters during a 20-minute exchange with reporters at the White House, according to pool reports.
In the U.S., 46 states and several territories have legalized marijuana in some fashion but the drug remains illegal under federal law. The bill by Gardner, R-Colo., and Warren, D-Mass., would force Washington to respect state laws on pot, from medical applications to recreational use…
Still, there would be limitations. For example, the sale of marijuana would be prohibited at rest areas and truck stops, according to a bill summary.
Remember the arrangement between Gardner and Trump? Gardner voted for Jeff Sessions for AG only after Sessions assured him that the DOJ wouldn’t try to enforce federal marijuana laws in Colorado. That’s where Gardner’s from, of course; it’s a rare purple state that was won by Hillary in 2016, which portends a very tough reelect for Gardner in 2020. If he didn’t do something bold to stick up for local potheads, the left would come for him. So he extracted some sort of private promise from Sessions — only to be left fuming after the new AG turned around and ordered U.S. Attorneys to consider prosecuting marijuana users even in states like Colorado where the drug is legal.
Gardner decided he had to play hardball to stick up for his constituents, so he put a hold on DOJ nominations which he vowed to continue indefinitely unless Trump promised him that he’d support a new federal law tying the DOJ’s hands on marijuana enforcement. And Trump did! Under the new Gardner/Warren bill the feds could continue to enforce federal marijuana law in states that ban marijuana, but in states like Colorado where it’s been legalized, it’s hands off for the DOJ. That’s a comfortable-ish compromise between full federal prohibition, which is increasingly unpopular, and full legalization, which the public generally supports but which might spook the GOP’s elderly base. And it gives POTUS a new opportunity to spite the drug-warrior AG whom he loathes, which may also have figured into Trump’s calculus in commuting drug trafficker Alice Johnson’s sentence. If only we could harness Trump’s contempt for Sessions we could power America for the next hundred years. Clean energy!
Anyway. Can the bill pass? There’s a real chance, yeah. Democrats will be all aboard — full legalization may very well be the position of their 2020 nominee — and there’s surely a minority of Republicans in both chambers willing to join with them to make this happen. The tricky part is convincing McConnell and especially Ryan to put the bill on the floor. Ilya Somin sees trouble:
It is highly likely that it could win a majority vote in both the Senate and House, given the support of the overwhelming majority of Democrats, and a good many Republicans. But it is at least questionable whether it can secure the support of a majority of the House GOP caucus. If it does not, lame-duck House Speaker Paul Ryan might apply the so-called “Hastert Rule,” under which legislation cannot come to a vote unless it has the backing of a majority of the majority party – not just a majority of the House as a whole.
House Republicans from deep red districts will be leery of it but I’m uncharacteristically optimistic anyway. After all, this isn’t a legalization bill, it’s a federalism bill, and conservatives always get a little misty-eyed seeing federalism in action. And as with all other Republican calculations, in the end it comes down to Trump. If Trump were strongly against the bill, GOPers in Congress would scatter — but with Trump in favor, however tepidly, Ryan and McConnell have cover to advance the bill even if parts of their caucuses have misgivings. It’s a smart political play by Trump, even with Gardner twisting his arm. Democrats are surely going to press this issue in the next few years when they retake power and doing something on legalization now will weaken Democratic efforts to use marijuana as a rallying-point issue this fall for younger voters. Plus, I think it tickles Trump to see himself getting good press for measures like pardons and marijuana liberalization that Obama, the great progressive hope, was too timid to pursue. Only Nixon can go to China, only Trump can pardon Nat Turner while smoking a bowl.
Here are Gardner and Warren on “Morning Joe” selling their legislation. Should have gone on “Fox & Friends” so that Trump would see it!
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