After more than a month of speculation, the Trump administration may be planning to crack down on marijuana, according to comments from White House spokesman Sean Spicer. “I think you’ll see greater enforcement,” said Spicer during a daily briefing to the media on Thursday.
Spicer suggested that the Department of Justice may be looking to enforce federal laws against recreational marijuana usage. The Obama administration turned a blind eye toward the subject as states began legalizing recreational use.
“There’s a big difference between (medical marijuana) and recreational marijuana, and I think 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,” said Spicer. He added that the President, “understands the pain and suffering that many people go through…especially terminal diseases and the comfort that some of these drugs including medical marijuana can bring to them.”
“There is still a federal law that we need to abide by in terms of recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature,” Spicer added.
Today’s briefing sent a ripple of concern throughout the medical and recreational marijuana use community. Up until now, it’s been anyone’s guess as to how the new administration will deal with pot — especially after a groundswell of states legalizing it for recreational or medical use. Several more states will vote on marijuana use laws this year.
During his campaign, Trump opined that it would be up to states to deal with marijuana laws, but Trump and his new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, have been mostly silent on the subject since the inauguration. Sessions, who previously stated his opposition to using marijuana, did say during his confirmation hearing that it wasn’t the attorney general’s job to decide what laws to enforce and that Americans should encourage Congress to change federal laws on pot if they don’t want it enforced.
“There’s a big difference between the medical use, which Congress has, through an appropriations rider in 2014, made very clear what there was in terms of how the Department of Justice would handle that issue. That’s very different than recreational use, which is something I think the Department of Justice will be further looking into,” said Spicer.
Legalized states like California, however, have already voiced plans to stand up for states’ rights. More than 71 percent of Americans are opposed to the federal government’s involvement in state marijuana laws, according to Quinnipiac University. The poll also found that 93 percent of voters support legalized marijuana use as prescribed by medical doctors.
Here’s the transcript from C-Span
Spicer: THERE’S TWO DISTINCT ISSUES HERE. MEDICAL MARIJUANA AND RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA. I THINK MEDICAL MARIJUANA , I SAID BEFORE THE PRESIDENT UNDERSTANDS THE PAIN AND SUFFERING THAT MANY PEOPLE GO THROUGH WERE FACING ESPECIALLY TERMINAL DISEASES AND THE COMFORT THAT SOME OF THESE DRUGS INCLUDING MEDICAL MARIJUANA CAN BRING TO THEM. THAT’S ONE CONGRESS THROUGH A WRITER IN 2011 , I THINK POISONED THE APPROPRIATIONS BILL SAYING THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE WOULDN’T BE FUNDED TO GO AFTER THOSE. THERE’S A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THAT AND RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA AND I THINK 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 IS STILL A FEDERAL LAW THAT WE NEED TO ABIDE BY IN TERMS OF RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA AND OTHER DRUGS OF THAT NATURE SO I THINK THERE’S A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEDICAL MARIJUANA WHICH STATES HAVE WHERE IT’S ALLOWED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE APPROPRIATIONS SIDE HAVE SET FORTH A PROCESS TO ADMINISTER AND REGULATE THAT USAGE VERSUS RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA, THAT’S A DIFFERENT SUBJECT .