White House Breaks Silence On Marijuana

By Desiree Bowie 02/24/17

Trump's press secretary gave reporters a glimpse of the current administration's crackdown plans. 

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Donald Trump

On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer finally addressed the green elephant in the room by hinting at the Trump administration's plans for marijuana, according to the Huffington Post

During a press conference, Spicer was asked how the Trump administration planned to handle the state/federal conflict with marijuana legalization. Spicer responded by making the distinction between the issues of recreational marijuana and medical marijuana. "The president understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing, especially, terminal diseases, and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them."

Spicer then referenced Section 542, a medical marijuana rider tucked inside the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, which says the DOJ can't spend money to stop states from putting laws in place that deter the use, cultivation or sale of medical marijuana. 

According to NORML, medical marijuana is currently legal in 28 states and Washington, D.C. It appears that the Trump administration will continue to allow the states to regulate medical marijuana.

While medical marijuana patients can breathe a quick sigh of relief, Spicer suggests that states that have legalized recreational marijuana should prepare for a crackdown. In a head-scratching, problematic moment, Spicer then linked recreational marijuana use to the opioid epidemic.

"I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people. There’s still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature,” Spicer said.

In an effort to back away from the detrimental, decades-long War on Drugs, former Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice put guidance in place that would allow states to take the wheel and regulate marijuana legalization. The Huffington Post reported that the DOJ would only step in to prosecute drug traffickers and individuals who were caught drugged driving, selling or using on federal property, and selling to minors. 

With the recent installation of current Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been a very vocal and controversial opponent of marijuana reform, advocates and drug policy reformers were put on notice. A crackdown on marijuana seemed inevitable as did the prolonging of the War on Drugs.

Drug policy advocates quickly spoke out against the administration's policy shift suggestions. Drug Policy Alliance founder Ethan Nadelmann said in a statement, “Trump seems insistent on throwing the marijuana market underground, wiping out tax-paying jobs and eliminating billions of dollars in taxes. As for connecting marijuana to the legal opioid crisis, Spicer has it exactly backwards. Greater access to marijuana has actually led to declines in opioid use, overdoses and other problems.”

Marijuana advocate Tom Angell voiced his concerns as well: "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.”

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Desiree Bowie is a writer and movie lover from Los Angeles, California. Follow her on Twitter @dangerbowie

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