Colorado’s Morning News, Cory Gardner, December 18, 2018

Station:    KOA, 850 am

Show:       Colorado’s Morning News

Guests:    Gardner, Cory


Date:        December 18, 2018

Topics:     Schedule 1 Drugs, Marijuana, Legalized Recreational Marijuana, Legalized Medical Marijuana, Banking System, Cash, Criminal Justice Reform Bill, Utah, Obamacare, Affordable Care Act (ACA), Texas Judge Ruling on ACA, Pre-existing Conditions, Health plans Cancelled, Higher Costs, Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Michael Bennet, Dick Durbin, Border Security, The Wall, Appropriations, Government Shutdown, President Donald Trump, Federal vs. State Laws, Ryan Zinke, David Bernhardt, Department of Interior, Rifle CO

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HOST APRIL ZESBAUGH: [00:00:01] Senator Cory Gardner is moving forward with a marijuana focused amendment on the Criminal Justice Reform bill in Congress. The amendment would keep marijuana on the list of Schedule 1 drugs but allow states like Colorado to set their own rules on legalization. Right now, Senator Gardner is on the live line. Good morning! Thanks for coming on.

U.S. SENATOR FROM COLORADO, CORY GARDNER: [00:00:19] Good morning! Thanks for having me.

ZESBAUGH: [00:00:20] This also helps answer the question of, you know, what do we do with something that’s considered illegal — at least, federally — yet they need a banking system to cover it so that it’s not more dangerous, right?

GARDNER: [00:00:32] Well, that’s exactly the situation we’re in, right now. I opposed legalization when it happened. But now that we have it — it’s in almost every state in the country –something has to be done, including getting billions of dollars of cash out of the shadows and into the daylight through our banking system.

HOST MARTY LENZ: [00:00:47] And so, this way, I guess it’s bringing marijuana more into the mainstream, as well, by doing the — by saying, “Look, we can do this. It can be a responsible business. But we’ve got to allow it to be responsible by letting it do transactions other businesses can do.”

GARDNER: [00:00:58] By 2022, it’s estimated this industry will be about 24 billion dollars worth of revenue. And that means 24 billion dollars floating around in cars, in trunks, in warehouses, unliess we can actually get this into the system. And [if] you want to talk about crime, [if] you want to talk about organized crime, that is going to lead to problems when you have an all-cash business where you can’t put the cash into a places or an ordinary business can. So, let’s fix this. We have 47, 48 states already doing this. Let’s bring state law in line — [correcting himself] let’s bring federal law in line with the state.

ZESBAUGH: [00:01:33] So, some things have changed. You originally — I understand — introduced this as a bill. But now it’s an amendment on the criminal justice bill. Why go that route?

GARDNER: [00:01:40] So, we haven’t had a chance to have a straight up or down vote on our bill. If we did, it would pass the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. This gives us a chance to offer this as an amendment because it’s germane. Unless it is blocked, unless somebody objects to it, we’ll have a straight up or down vote on it. And I believe it will pass. Now, there’s always a chance that somebody could block it. And we anticipate somebody trying to block it later today or tomorrow when we offer this.

LENZ: [00:02:04] Overall, how has the response been from fellow members of Congress and your people?

GARDNER: [00:02:08] We have a number of senators who want to see this passed because their states — including Utah — are continuing to move forward on either recreational or medical marijuana. Utah just legalized medical marijuana this past November. And so a lot of states are wondering how to deal with this, and they see this as a way that puts the states rights first. It’s not a legalization bill. This allows the states to opt out of that that federal law. And the sentencing bill makes perfect sense to put it, because, why can you go to federal prison for following Colorado state law?

ZESBAUGH: [00:02:37] At what point though, Senator, — doesn’t the federal government just say, “Well, states are all doing this legalization thing? Why don’t we just legalize it?”

GARDNER: [00:02:45] So, I think that’s the question that our bill will address. It answers the problems the banks have right now in not taking the money. It answers the tax issue. It really does answer the legalization issue in a way that the states approve. And so, I don’t think that flat out legalization has the support in the U.S. Senate. It may in the House. I don’t think it has it in the U.S. Senate, right now. This is a way to get majority bipartisan support to fix this conflict between federal and state law.

LENZ: [00:03:11] You know, I know you’re trying to fix this, but I wanted to ask you a couple other questions before we let you go.

GARDNER: [00:03:15] Sure!

LENZ: [00:03:15] Do you anticipate any kind of partial shutdown of the government? Do you think you guys will get something done?

GARDNER: [00:03:19] I do believe we will get this done. We should not have a shutdown. I think we should fund border security, do our jobs. Seventy-five percent of the government has already been funded. That’s already been passed into law. So let’s wrap up this remaining 25 percent, — including border security — [let’s] come together in a bipartisan fashion and make this happen.

ZESBAUGH: [00:03:37] The President said he’d be proud to shut down the government over funding for his border wall. The question is, do you fund it to the tune of 1.6 billion, or to 5 billion?

GARDNER: [00:03:45] Well, 1.6 billion [dollars] was in the request from the President, through the appropriations process. He is now saying 5 billion [dollars]. Both Democrats and Republicans in the past have supported as much as 25 billion dollars over the next several years. So, I think there’s plenty of ground for common ground to do the right thing.

LENZ: [00:04:00] But, this doesn– the Wall, even, it doesn’t solve the major problem. There has to be a real overhaul of immigration legislation. Does — Is there the skill and the will to get that done?

GARDNER: [00:04:08] Well, there’s certainly the will. And certainly, the skill — I worked with Michael Bennett, my colleague. I worked with Dick Durbin and others in the U.S. Senate last spring to come up with a very significant bipartisan bill that would have fixed this problem that we have. I voted for it.. We received over 50 votes. Unfortunately, we received less than 60 votes, the filibuster level required to overcome a filibuster. And so, I think there is the will. I think there is certainly people wanting to do this on both sides of the aisle to get this job done. You’re right. This is more than just border security. It’s about judges. It’s about laws. It’s about fixing the entry/exit system. We need to get all of this together to have an immigration system that works.

ZESBAUGH: [00:04:47] Speaking of judges, we saw what that Texas judge did on Friday with the ACA ruling. Do you agree with the judge? And is there a way to cover preexisting conditions without forcing everybody to be on Obamacare?

GARDNER: [00:04:59] Well, this is going to take some time to work through the system. The status quo remains in place. Nothing changes as this decision will be appealed, most likely all the way to the Supreme Court. What has to happen: Congress needs to guarantee protections for pre-existing conditions, as we have said we will do and we’ll continue to work to do. But we also have to find a[n] approach that fixes what’s wrong with Obamacare, because it has led to hundreds of thousands of people who had their health insurance plans canceled, and higher costs. So, let’s create a system that allows people to buy the insurance they want at a price they can afford.

LENZ: [00:05:29] Before we let you go, we’ve got one more question. What is going on with the [Department of] Interior — Ryan Zinke and therefore?

GARDNER: [00:05:34] You know, Ryan’s Zinke has announced that he will be leaving the the position of Secretary of Interior. We’ve got a couple of great people that have been circulating as possibilities for Interior Secretary, including a Coloradan — David Bernhardt. David would be a fantastic Secretary of Interior. I’d be very excited to see him take that position. He’s the number two, right now, over at the Department of Interior. He’s from Rifle, Colorado, so [he] grew up surrounded by public lands on the Western Slope of Colorado. He’d be an outstanding choice, and that’s certainly somebody that I’ve talked to the President about already.

ZESBAUGH: [00:06:03] Senator, thanks for the time. Happy holidays, if we don’t speak again this year.

GARDNER: [00:06:06] Happy holidays! Merry Christmas!.