Trump commits to hands-off policy toward cannabis

During his trip to Washington, D.C. last month, Chairman Sterud discussed the future of cannabis with Senator Cory Gardner (shown here) and other elected officials.

In 2013, former U.S. Attorney General James M. Cole issued what came to be called the “Cole Memorandum” regarding enforcement of federal drug laws in the wake of states legalizing cannabis. In short, the Cole Memorandum called for a hands-off approach toward states that vote for legalization, rather than spend federal dollars enforcing cannabis prohibition under the Controlled Substances Act. 

In early 2018, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memorandum. As Sessions wrote in a memo to federal prosecutors: “In deciding which marijuana activities to prosecute under these laws with the (Justice) Department’s finite resources, prosecutors should follow the well-established principles that govern all federal prosecutions. These principles require federal prosecutors deciding which cases to prosecute to weigh all relevant considerations of the crime, the deterrent effect of criminal prosecution, and the cumulative impact of particular crimes on the community.”

While not directly calling for prosecutions, Sessions certainly did nothing to appease fears that the Trump administration would crack down on legalized cannabis. That notion has existed as a sort of dark cloud over the industry lately, borne on fears of the unknown as far as which way Trump would ultimately swing on the issue. 

Now good news has come to light in that Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado received a commitment from President Trump to leave cannabis-friendly states alone. 

“Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states’ rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana,” Gardner wrote in a statement. “Late Wednesday (April 11), I received a commitment from the President that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole memo will not impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry. Furthermore, President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.” This was later confirmed by White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“I applaud Senator Cory Gardner,” said Puyallup Tribal Chairman Bill Sterud, who has been a lifelong champion of cannabis legalization and a vocal advocate of its medicinal properties. “The medical research in all the different areas that cannabis can help is just beginning, and that’s what I’m really excited about. It will save lives.”

He continued, “Our country’s very essence is based on states’ rights. Both Washington and Colorado have led the way on the legalization of cannabis, which has been an economic boon for both states.”

There is a backstory to this response from Trump in that Gardner had placed a hold on all Department of Justice (DOJ) nominees until he received a commitment that Colorado’s rights would not be infringed. After positive discussions with DOJ, Gardner lifted some of his holds but kept the rest in place until he received a full commitment that the guidelines of the Cole Memo would be respected.

“Because of these commitments, I have informed the Administration that I will be lifting my remaining holds on Department of Justice nominees,” Gardner said in his statement. “My colleagues and I are continuing to work diligently on a bipartisan legislative solution that can pass Congress and head to the President’s desk to deliver on his campaign position.”


In addition to the Tribe’s highly successful Commencement Bay Cannabis retail shop in Fife, the Tribe has established Qwibil, Inc., a new corporation founded as a natural healing, consultation and research center for all-natural healing, including medical cannabis. “Qwibil” is a word from the Tribe’s indigenous language Lushootseed meaning “to fix oneself mentally, physically or spiritually.”

According to the Qwibil statement of purpose, patients are eagerly seeking education and direction in using their cannabis medicine, and many would prefer ongoing, professional oversight to safely treat their medical conditions. The Qwibil Clinic is being created, in part, to provide patients with direct access to providers who are not only extensively knowledgeable in cannabis medicine, but compassionate in their approach and commitment to helping patients in their pursuits of achieving optimal wellness through cannabis therapies and other natural lifestyle issues. 

To fulfill this commitment, the Tribe has hired Dr. Xochitl Palomino, ND for one day per week to see patients. He hopes to begin seeing patients starting June 7. (For those who would like to schedule an appointment once the doctor begins seeing patients, call (253) 573-7850 to sign up.) 

This Research Center side of Qwibil will provide publishable medical evidence on the efficacy and safety of the methods being used in the treatment of cannabis for all medical conditions starting with alcohol and opiate tapering for withdrawals.

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