Gardner Lifts Certain DOJ Holds as Positive Conversations Continue on Protecting Colorado’s States’ Rights

Washington, DC – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) announced on Thursday that he has lifted holds on certain Department of Justice nominees as a show of good faith for continued positive conversations with DOJ leadership, including Deputy Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Acting United States Attorney for Colorado, aimed at finding a path forward that respects states’ rights and clarifies the DOJ priorities regarding marijuana enforcement.


“Since the Department of Justice rescinded the Cole memo, I have been working with the Department’s leadership, including Deputy Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Acting United States Attorney for Colorado on a path forward that respects states’ rights and clarifies the DOJ’s priorities regarding marijuana enforcement,” said Senator Cory Gardner.  “Because we have had positive conversations, I have decided to lift my holds on the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, United States Attorneys, and United States Marshals as an act of good faith. My holds on all other DOJ nominees will remain in place as discussions continue.


“Let me be crystal clear: so long as the federal enforcement priorities detailed in the 2013 Cole Memorandum are adequately protected, the DOJ should respect the will of the states who have spoken overwhelmingly on this issue.  I will view the DOJ’s failure to do so as a direct contradiction of our positive conversations and will take action accordingly. While I have decided to lift my holds on these specific nominations, I will continue to lead a bipartisan group of colleagues to find a legislative solution. I remain optimistic that we will come to an agreement with the Department of Justice soon.”


Senator Gardner’s holds on other DOJ nominees will continue as he works toward a solution that protects Coloradans’ rights. Senator Gardner also remains committed to the bipartisan work he has been leading to find a legislative solution to the issue.


“From the moment the Department of Justice announced that it was rescinding the Cole memo, Senator Gardner’s commitment to protecting Colorado’s states’ rights has been effective, important, and appreciated,” said Sal Pace, former Democratic Leader in the Colorado State House and sitting Pueblo County Commissioner. “I am convinced that Senator Gardner continues to effectively fight for Colorado's right to forge our own path on cannabis regulation. The decision to lift a small number of holds on Justice Department nominees will not affect Senator Gardner`s ability to apply pressure to the DOJ, while he works toward a legislative solution. In fact, nobody who supports federal cannabis reform, including myself, wants cannabis to be blamed for holding up appointees related to national security. Such a strategy could backfire.”


“The Department of Justice’s decision to reverse course and remove clarity for Cannabis businesses operating in accordance with state law has created confusion and concerns for our industry,” said Neal Levine, Chairman, New Federalism Fund. “I applaud Senator Gardner for fighting for states’ rights, and support his decision to lift a number of DOJ holds on certain nominees while negotiations continue. I am confident Senator Gardner will continue his work to find a bipartisan legislative solution for the state regulated cannabis industry in Colorado and throughout the nation.”




Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Budget Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy and Subcommittee on Energy


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