President Trump’s administration hints at ‘greater enforcement’ of marijuana laws

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WASHINGTON – The White House said Thursday it expects law enforcement agents to enforce federal marijuana laws when they come into conflict with states where recreational use of the drug is permitted.

“I do believe you will see greater enforcement of it,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said regarding federal drug laws, which still list marijuana as an illegal substance.

That’s a reversal from the Obama administration’s stance, which laid out in an official memo that the federal government wouldn’t interfere in states where nonmedical use of marijuana is allowed.

That guidance was issued after two states — Colorado and Washington — voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Obama said in the immediate aftermath of those votes that the federal government had “bigger fish to fry” than cracking down on marijuana use in states where it’s considered legal.

Most drug enforcement operations are carried out by state and local authorities, with little involvement by the federal government. Enforcing marijuana laws has been considered a lower priority for federal drug agents, who have remained focused on curbing narcotics trafficking and combating a nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse.

Spicer on Thursday, however, linked marijuana use with the widespread abuse of painkillers, suggesting that allowing recreational use of marijuana could be interpreted as condoning drug use more widely.

“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,” Spicer said. “There is still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and drugs of that nature.”

He was careful to distinguish between use of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. President Donald Trump, he said, understood that marijuana could help ease suffering for patients with terminal illnesses.

President Trump took varying positions on marijuana during his campaign for president. He said during remarks in June 2015 that legal recreational use was “bad,” adding he felt “strongly about it.”

But later that year he suggested the issue should be decided by individual states and not by the federal government.

“In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” he said in Nevada in October 2015.

He’s remained staunchly supportive of medical marijuana, telling Fox News host Bill O’Reilly he was “in favor of medical marijuana 100%.”

“I know people that have serious problems and they did that they really — it really does help them,” he said.

6 comments

  • Jeff Tate

    Is this decision brought to us by Purdue Pharma or Anheuser Busch? Maybe both? I thought this administration was going to strongly support state’s rights.

    • John Eight Thirty-Two

      “States’ rights”? It’s foolish to expect this administration to take a principled stand on anything besides enriching the president and his cronies. The alcohol and drug industries do have formidable lobbyists, but don’t forget the lucrative private prison industry, and all the people who sell supplies to law enforcement, from stenciled windbreakers to night-vision goggles. If the cannabis industry can’t out-spend them (and their chances seem dim), then we’ll have prohibition.

  • Thorby Baslim

    Every state that has legalized has had a big drop in the use of legal and illegal opiates. Spicer does not know what he is talking about. Looks like Trump is in the pocket of Big pharma. He keeps peeling off his supporters a layer at a time.
    Trump said he was for Medical Cannabis and although not in favor of recreational he would leave it up to the states. Spicer just made a liar out of Trump.

  • Mike P Stwo

    We need some supreme court judges to say “Hey Sessions, We got 50 states in the union and 28 of them all have legal medical weed, that’s over half of the country, despite your opinion. its pretty obvious the people have spoken. “

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