DOJ will “enforce the laws”
Recreational cannabis users’ worst fears about the Trump administration may become real very soon.
During White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s daily briefing Thursday, he suggested that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will take action to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized recreational use.
“I do think you’ll see greater enforcement,” Spicer told the assembled reporters.. “The Department of Justice, I think, will be further looking into [the issue]. I believe they are going to continue to enforce the laws on the books with respect to recreational marijuana.”
During the Obama administration, the DOJ ignored enforcement of federal cannabis laws in states with legal medical or recreational marijuana, as long as the states followed some guidelines explained in a DOJ memo. During those years, more than half of U.S. states have liberalized their own laws.
Cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug according to federal law, meaning it has high potential for addiction and abuse. Other Schedule 1 drugs include heroin, meth and LSD.
There’s a new sheriff in town
The Trump DOJ is led by new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has made his opposition to legal marijuana very clear in the past. He once said that marijuana users are not good people.
Spicer explained that Trump supports medical marijuana, and said the president understands the need of people in pain to have access. But he said that there is a difference between medical and recreational marijuana, and in a bizarre twist Spicer indicated that somehow legal cannabis could exacerbate the use of addictive opioids.
Enforcing federal law in states with legal recreational cannabis would likely shut down the multibillion-dollar business in those states and force the market back underground, where is it dominated by organized crime. Just last November, several states voted to legalize recreational marijuana, including California, Nevada, and Massachusetts.
A national Quinnipiac poll released today found that 71 percent of Americans say the government should not enforce federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized use, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.