Donald Trump is vocal on many issues, but on medical marijuana, Trump has been largely silent. Legalization of medical and recreational cannabis, and recently, the CBD oil Schedule 1 memo issued by the DEA which was covered extensively by the Inquisitr, are issues which many Americans care about. There are serious questions about the future of Marijuana as the nation moves into the administration of Donald Trump, who was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States January 20.
One of the very few statements on medical marijuana Trump made as a candidate came in October of 2016, claiming that he was supportive of medical marijuana, but cannabis legalization should be left to the states.
“In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” Trump said.
Because of this uncharacteristic silence, any conversation centered on a Trump administration attitude towards medical marijuana and cannabis legalization is largely speculation, but some cues can be taken from his federal appointments and attitudes on other issues.
Possibilities For The Future Of The Marijuana Industry
The editors of Marijuana Business Daily, a publication that has covered the marijuana industry since 2011, recently put together a report in which they detail five scenarios going forward for the future of cannabis legalization and business.
“Scenario 1. Trump’s Team Cracks Down on Both MMJ (medical marijuana) and Recreational
Scenario 2. The Administration Looks to Shut Down Recreational, Leaving Medical Untouched
Scenario 3. The existing States Remain Untouched But New States Are Targeted
Scenario 4. The status quo Remains Untouched – MJ Industry Continues as It Has Been
Scenario 5. Trump Openly Supports a Booming MJ Industry”
Federal law regarding recreational cannabis and medical marijuana in legalized states hinges largely on the Cole Memorandum, a memo signed by then-Deputy Attorney General of the Department of Justice James Cole in 2013, and the Rohrabacher–Farr medical marijuana amendment of 2003. The Cole Memo regulates Justice Department enforcement of federal cannabis laws in states in which medical or recreational cannabis is legal, and the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment prevents the federal government from spending money interfering with state cannabis laws, both in spite of the Drug Enforcement Agency placing cannabis under Schedule 1 status.
Problematically, if the administration of Donald Trump decides to go with the above “Scenario 1,” they certainly have options to do so. As the Justice Department is under the authority of the Executive, in this case, Donald Trump, he could simply rescind the memo. Rohrabacher–Farr is up for renewal April 28, and Trump could well lobby to defeat it. However, given that his stated opinion on cannabis legalization and medical marijuana is to favor state’s rights, this scenario seems unlikely, as both the Cole Memo and the Rohrabacher–Farr medical marijuana amendment protect the rights of states to legalize cannabis.
Scenarios two and three above are perhaps more likely, especially given the Trump pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who is anti-cannabis. Medical marijuana, which is largely popular among the American population, may be left alone while the Trump administration cracks down on the more federally vulnerable recreational cannabis industry. The federal government may also use strategies to signal to states that are considering cannabis legalization that there will be an uncertain future in expanding the business, and applying pressure to states that are not currently protected under the Rohrabacher–Farr medical marijuana amendment.
The Most Likely Trump Administration Cannabis Policy
According to the assessment from Marijuana Business Daily, their fourth scenario, the preservation of the cannabis industry status quo, is the most likely under the administration of Donald Trump.
“It does not seem at this time that the cannabis industry will see a major crackdown on the cannabis industry, and any large, coordinated effort to close marijuana businesses will not be very successful if attempted.”
The American public supports medical marijuana and is largely in favor of recreational cannabis legalization in many states, and Trump has numerous other priorities. It is likely that the legal limbo that currently rules the day, a balance between federal Schedule 1 restrictions and forms of legalization and decriminalization of cannabis in the several states, will continue, and individual states will be allowed to pursue medical marijuana and legal cannabis at their own pace.
The fifth scenario is interesting, however. Given Mr. Trump’s past in business, and his desire to create American jobs, he may at some point give full-throated support to the cannabis industry. The cannabis industry employs some 100,000 to 150,000 people across the US and amounts to around $5 billion in revenue. These numbers are on target to swell even under status quo conditions, but with federal blessing, the cannabis industry could represent a major national business opportunity. This scenario, while extremely unlikely, is one that intrigues many in the marijuana business.
It seems that on cannabis, and at least medical marijuana, Trump will likely maintain matters as they are. However, given that President Trump is known for being mercurial and often changes his mind on various issues, many in the cannabis industry are taking an optimistic but guarded stance.
[Featured Image by Rich Pedroncelli/AP Images]