Will federal marijuana laws be reinforced? Sean Spicer claimed that there should be “greater enforcement” of federal laws prohibiting the use of recreational marijuana.
The White House press secretary commented on the federal marijuana laws for the first time since the new Trump administration, according to Buzzfeed News.
Spicer’s comments saying that “there should be greater enforcement” of federal laws that prohibit the use of recreational marijuana could pose a potential conflict with the eight states that recently legalized recreational marijuana.
Under President Obama’s administration, the Department of Justice instituted a policy in 2013 that stated that the federal government would not challenge states that had legalized recreational marijuana usage, pending strict regulation.
Sean Spicer claimed on Thursday that the Department of Justice would be looking further into the recreational use of marijuana and directed all follow-up questions to the department.
A post shared by Sean Spicer (@seanmspicer) on
However, the Justice Department told Buzzfeed News this week that it had not yet addressed this issue in the new administration, or announced any changes or updates to the 2013 policy.
Wyn Hornbuckle, the spokesperson for the department, responded that they “decline to comment” when asked if the Justice Department was in discussions to change the recreational marijuana policy.
During his campaign, Donald Trump claimed that he was not in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, but that he would respect the various states’ decisions on the matter.
Tom Angell, the founder of the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority, gave a statement on Thursday that “Donald Trump reneging on his promises would be a political disaster and huge distraction from the rest of the president’s agenda.”
“If the administration is looking for ways to become less popular, cracking down on voter-approved marijuana laws would be a great way to do it.”
A recent poll by Quinnipiac University that found that 71 percent of voters would oppose the enforcement of federal marijuana laws for states that have legalized it for either medical or recreational use.
Sean Spicer did say that Donald Trump “understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases, and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, bring to them.”
States in the country that have already legalized medical marijuana will be protected from federal challenges by an amendment contained in recent funding bills.
The current legislation, as well as the amendment, are up for renewal at the end of April, 2017.
Trump’s press secretary stated that there was “a big difference between” medical and recreational use and then referred to the opioid crisis saying, “The last thing we should be doing is encouraging people. There is still a federal law that we need to abide by.”
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) January 25, 2017
Marijuana advocates have been preparing for a crackdown since Donald Trump named Senator Jeff Sessions as his attorney general. Sessions has notoriously been a firm opponent of marijuana legalization, according to Buzzfeed News.
Marijuana industry executives had harsh criticisms of the Trump administration after Sean Spicer’s statement.
A post shared by MassRoots (@massroots) on
Steve Gormley, CEO of the private equity firm Seventh Point LLC, called Spicer’s briefing a “disturbing departure” from Trump’s previous statements on the issue.
“I suspect this issue will end up being litigated at the Supreme Court.”
The CEO of MassRoots, a cannabis app, made a statement saying that he had “a feeling [the company’s] stock is going to take a beating tomorrow, but that just creates an opportunity for investors who believe in the long-term trajectory of the cannabis market.”
A post shared by MassRoots (@massroots) on
Jeffery Zucker, the president of cannabis industry strategy firm Green Lion Partners, also commented on Spicer’s comments calling them “ignorant and disappointing.”
“[The industry] will fight any pressure from the federal government to set back the significant progress that’s been made thus far.”
Do you think the White House will push to enforce federal marijuana laws again? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
[Featured Image by Aaron P. Bernstein/Stringer/Getty Images]