White House press secretary Sean Spicer hinted this week that the Trump administration’s Justice Department may begin aggressively enforcing federal laws against legal weed in eight states and the District of Columbia.
While marijuana remains federally illegal, the Obama administration stopped prioritizing federal enforcement against marijuana as voters in a growing number of states approved recreational marijuana.
To date marijuana is legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and DC.
Since laws legalizing the drug passed in those states, regulated sales have created a new industry. But now-legitimate recreational marijuana businesses may soon find themselves under assault from federal agents as the Trump administration works to wipe out what Spicer described Thursday as a “scourge.”
“I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement.” Spicer said of recreational marijuana.
Spicer also noted that the Department of Justice “will be further looking into” medical marijuana laws.
Why go after personal and state rights? Well, because of the tired gateway drug trope.
“When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming around so many states … the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people,” Spicer told reporters. “There is still a federal law we need to abide by in terms of when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.”
What the White House failed to note is that opioid addiction rates are actually highest in some of the states that currently have the strictest marijuana laws.
Marijuana legalization advocates say the administration’s announcement is contrary to Trump’s language about marijuana on the campaign trial.
“If the administration is looking for ways to become less popular, cracking down on voter-approved marijuana laws would be a great way to do it,” Tom Angell, the chairman of Marijuana Majority, said in a statement. “On the campaign trail, President Trump clearly and repeatedly pledged that he would leave decisions on cannabis policy to the states. With a clear and growing majority of the country now supporting legalization, reneging on his promises would be a political disaster and huge distraction from the rest of the president’s agenda.”
Still, the Trump administration isn’t likely to back down, especially with former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions overseeing the Justice Department. Sessions has been a huge supporter of government’s failed drug war throughout his political career and has made it clear that he believes “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
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