The lack of clarity on the future of Trump cannabis policy has been keeping medical and recreational marijuana businesses on edge. During his campaign, Trump said “medical is good,” but he seems happy to let cannabis opponent Jeff Sessions do the decision-making with regard to cannabis policy.
Could this lack of clarity be intentional? Is Federal government keeping cannabusinesses on edge so that they won’t invest and expand? Newsweek reports on the latest statements by the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, John Kelly.
Focus on narcotics
Kelly recently said that marijuana is “not a factor” in the US war against drugs, and the government shouldn’t focus on drug arrests, as it is not the solution to the drug problem in the US. The focus should be on other narcotics rather than marijuana. According to him, authorities should tackle heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.
The deaths caused by these three drugs since 2015 amounts to 50,000 people. If opioid pain killers are thrown in, the cost to the government amounts to $250 billion.
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Trump cannabis policy: not for legalization
Kelly doesn’t approve of cannabis legalization, calling it the classic gateway to other drugs. In an interview last year, he claimed to support medical marijuana use for veterans, or anyone it may help.
Yet, when it comes to legalization by federal law, Kelly stands with Sessions, who as recently as last month, said marijuana is not much better than heroin. Criminal enforcement, treatment, and prevention are the only way to fight the drug plague according to Sessions.
Sessions: cannabis only slightly less awful than heroin
An article recently published in the Washington Post suggested Sessions is preparing a plan to prosecute more cases involving drugs and guns and implement mandatory minimum sentences.
Sessions says that he is opposed the idea of America allowing marijuana sales from “street corner stores.” He added that he is astonished to hear that people think the heroin crisis could be solved by legalizing marijuana. He says it’s absurd to trade one “life-wrecking addiction” for another that is only slightly less awful.
In the meantime, congress gave protection to state-licensed medical marijuana businesses until September. Nobody knows what will happen after that.
Budget money not to be used against medical cannabis
The budget bill, which should be passed by Congress in the very near future, prohibits the Department of Justice (DOJ) from using budget money to undermine state medical marijuana programs or to prosecute state-licensed patients or businesses.
Good news for medical cannabis – not recreational
Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, and member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus said medical marijuana patients and businesses at least have some protection for now, but this short-term solution must ultimately become permanent protection of state-legal programs and adult use.
The first medical marijuana provision was introduced in 2003, but only got passed in 2014. Congress has extended the protection several times. Recreational laws and businesses are not included, and they remain susceptible to enforcement of federal law by the DOJ.
Beyond September: a peep into the crystal ball
With medical cannabis gaining increased acceptance, it seems unlikely that Trump cannabis policy will focus on medical use. However, recreational cannabis is less of a safe bet. Although states won’t be happy with interference in local policy, Federal action is still a real possibility.