White House press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed on Thursday that the Trump administration would be reneging on his repeated promises made by the president during his election campaign to leave decisions on marijuana policy to individual states.
“There’s two distinct issues here: medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana, I’ve said before the president understands the pain and suffering many people go through who are facing terminal diseases, and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can give to them. That’s something that Congress in 2011 put in an appropriations bill, saying the Department of Justice wouldn’t be funded to go after those folks. “
While the Obama administration chose not to interfere with states’ decisions to legalize marijuana, and instead focused enforcement efforts on other drugs, the former president had multiple opportunities to reschedule marijuana. By not doing so, he left it in the same legal category as heroin and LSD.
Spicer wasted no time in correlating marijuana with heroin, and the explosion in opioid use as a reason to restart an aggressive “war on drugs.”
“There’s a big difference between that (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. There is still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana.”
This, combined with the appointment of Jeff Sessions as the Attorney General has many marijuana advocacy groups worried about what will come next, because of his history as a strong opponent of marijuana legalization. Sessions once stated he had a high opinion of the Ku Klux Klan until he learned that many of them smoked marijuana.
And in what is surely a completely unrelated move, Sessions sent out a memo today to the Bureau of Prisons rescinding the Obama administration’s previous order to not renew any contracts with private prisons. Of the current federal prison population serving sentences related to drugs, more than 27% are incarcerated for marijuana arrests.