The Justice Department’s decision to free federal prosecutors to enforce marijuana laws in states that have legalized the drug adds to the political burdens of congressional Republicans trying to hold their House and Senate majorities in an already challenging election year.
An early indication of the issue’s potency was the fierce reaction of Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, a state where voters legalized cultivation and possession in 2012. Gardner, who also is chairman of the GOP’s Senate campaign arm, slammed the decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “a trampling of Colorado’s rights, its voters.”
“Why is Donald Trump thinking differently than what he promised the people of Colorado in 2016?” Gardner said in a speech Thursday on the Senate floor, evoking Trump’s campaign promise to leave the issue of marijuana legalization to states. “Thousands of jobs at risk, millions of dollars in revenue, and certainly the question of constitutional states rights — very much at the core of this discussion.”
GOP control of Congress hangs in the balance, with all House seats and a third of Senate seats on the ballot in 2018. The question for Republicans is whether complaining publicly about the administration’s decision will be enough to inoculate them from Democratic opponents’ criticism during the campaign. [Read more at Bloomberg]