Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jun 2018
Source: State, The (SC)
Copyright: 2018 The State
Author: Michael R. Blood, Associated Press


President Donald Trump said Friday that he's inclined to support a
bipartisan effort in Congress to ease the U.S. ban on marijuana, a
proposal that would dramatically reshape the nation's legal landscape
for pot users and businesses.

The federal ban that puts marijuana on the same level as LSD and
heroin has created a conflict with more than two dozen states that
have legalized pot in some form, creating a two-tiered enforcement
system where cannabis can be both legal and not.

The legislation would ensure states have the right to determine the
best approach to marijuana within their borders, but some U.S.
restrictions would remain, including recreational sales to people under 21.

The proposal introduced Thursday has support from members of Congress
from both parties, including Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado.

"I support Senator Gardner. I know exactly what he's doing," Trump
told reporters in Washington, when asked about the legislation. "We're
looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes."

The president's remarks place him in conflict with U.S. Attorney
General Jeff Sessions, an outspoken opponent of marijuana who lifted
an Obama administration policy and freed federal prosecutors to more
aggressively pursue cases in states that have legalized marijuana.

Trump has sent mixed signals on the drug: While campaigning for
president, he pledged to respect states that legalized marijuana, but
he also has criticized legalization and implied it should be stopped.

Gardner said the legislation would ensure Washington respects the will
of voters in each state, whether laws provide for legalization or

He said in a statement released Thursday that the federal government
"is closing its eyes and plugging its ears" to spreading legalization,
but Washington should not interfere with any state's legal marijuana

Trump's remarks Friday echo a promise that Gardner said he received
privately from the president in April to support legislation
protecting the marijuana industry in states that have legalized the

Another co-sponsor of the measure, Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth
Warren of Massachusetts, said in a statement that Washington "needs to
get out of the business of outlawing marijuana."

California, home to one in eight Americans, launched the nation's
largest legal marijuana marketplace on Jan. 1 but thousands of
businesses that have been licensed are still facing the threat of
federal prosecution.

A major problem stemming from the federal ban: Major banks have been
reluctant to do business with marijuana companies, fearing it could
lead to prosecution. In California, for example, paying taxes and
other transactions are often carried out in cash, sometimes in vast
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