Is The White House Waging A "Secret War" On Marijuana?

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Is The White House Waging A "Secret War" On Marijuana?

By Victoria Kim 10/10/18

The administration's Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee may be responsible for hindering marijuana legalization. 

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President Donald Trump

Trump has said in the past that he supports states’ rights to establish their own marijuana policies—yet according to a report by BuzzFeed News, administration officials are waging a “secret war on weed” to push back on support of marijuana legalization across the country.

Rolling Stone says the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) confirmed the existence of the Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee, but “stopped short of confirming” that the goal of the coalition of federal agencies was to shed a negative light on marijuana legalization.

Members of Congress confirm that the White House’s actions contradict what Trump has said about marijuana policy—leading them to wonder: “Is there someone within the Trump administration directing a negative marijuana message?” as a senior congressional staffer put it.

“Every time I speak to someone in the administration, despite what the president has said, they tell me it isn’t happening. My question is, who is in charge over there? It borders on ridiculous,” Rep. Tom Garrett of Virginia told Rolling Stone.

On multiple occasions, Trump has said that he supports a state’s right to choose how it handles marijuana policy. “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” he said at a 2015 campaign rally in Sparks, Nevada.

“The president is right on this issue,” said Garrett. “The gatekeepers need to do their job, not undermine good policy.”

Some point to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions as the main force within the administration that’s fighting marijuana policy reform. “I’ve discussed marijuana policy with senior White House officials, cabinet members and the president,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. “My personal assessment is that the attorney general is the problem.”

Jeff Sessions is notoriously anti-marijuana. The 71-year-old former senator from Alabama—who once said “Good people don’t smoke marijuana”—has made it a point to enforce, and enhance, the federal prohibition of marijuana.

“I don’t think America is going to be a better place when people of all ages, and particularly young people, are smoking pot,” the attorney general said in February 2017. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice, and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and we’re seeing real violence around that.”

In response to Sessions’ renewed “war on drugs,” bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the Senate to protect state marijuana policy.

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