WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner on Thursday provided additional details on his meeting Wednesday with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in which they discussed their disagreement over marijuana policy.
“I don’t think there was anything new in the discussion yesterday about (Sessions’) position, other than he doesn’t think that he’s changed anything,” Gardner said. “But clearly what he did (last week) was, I don’t think, the same commitment that he gave us prior to (his) confirmation.”
The Colorado Republican senator said prior to his confirmation as attorney general, Sessions told him there would be no change in policy.
“(Sessions said) that they didn’t have the bandwidth to do that, that he didn’t see it on the president’s agenda,” Gardner said. “But I think it’s important to recognize, I still think the Department of Justice and the White House are on different pages.”
Prior to the Wednesday meeting, Gardner said in an interview that he planned to press the Republican attorney general on his decision to rescind an Obama-era policy that left alone states such as Colorado that legalized marijuana. Gardner had previously threatened to block all nominees related to the Department of Justice, including U.S. marshals and U.S. attorneys from other states, if he didn’t get his way.
Gardner’s comments to The Denver Post Thursday mirror those he made late Wednesday on MSNBC’s Meet the Press Daily.
“The meeting went as I expected it,” Gardner told host Chuck Todd. “He’s going to hold his position for now, I’m going to hold my position. My position of course is that — I believed prior to his confirmation he made a commitment that we wouldn’t see the kind of significant shift in policy that we are now seeing the administration pursue. But I actually think that it’s not necessarily the administration, it’s the attorney general who I actually believe has a difference of opinion on this than the White House does right now.”
The senator in the televised interview framed his opposition to the attorney general’s marijuana policy shift as a states’ rights issue.
“I’m somebody that didn’t support the legalization of marijuana in Colorado,” he said, “but I also think it’s necessary to protect that state decision. If Colorado had to vote again today I think it’d probably pass with an even higher margin now than it did several years back. This is about states’ rights, this is about a federalist approach to government, and I hope that’s something that we can find a solution on.”
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