Cannabis Debate Reaches the Oval Office
A conservative Republican White House ally pressed President Trump about marijuana policy in a recent Oval Office meeting.
Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida, who was standing by the president’s side two weeks ago as he signed legislation on drug interdiction efforts at U.S. borders, confirmed that he took the opportunity to discuss the need to update federal cannabis policies with Trump.
The discussion apparently took place after journalists were ushered out of the room following the bill signing. During the public portion of the Oval Office gathering, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, a Democrat of Massachusetts, briefly mentioned marijuana to the president.
“I encourage you to focus your efforts on further funding and thinking about opioids. And marijuana, we can talk about at another time,” she said.
The president responded, simply: “OK, that’s OK, that’s OK.”
Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded Obama-era guidance (known as the “Cole Memorandum”) that has generally allowed states to implement their own cannabis laws without federal intervention.
On Wednesday, Gaetz joined 53 other members of Congress in sending a letter asking Trump to overrule Sessions on marijuana.
During the course of the 2016 president race, Trump repeatedly pledged to respect state marijuana laws.
Gaetz, a freshman member of Congress, has quickly become one of Capitol Hill’s most consistent and vocal marijuana law reform advocates. He is sponsoring or cosponsoring several marijuana bills, and has taken to the House floor to discuss the issue on a number of occasions.
On Thursday, Gaetz tweeted that the marijuana policy Sessions is waging on behalf of the Trump administration is “silly.”