Donald Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer sent shockwaves across the cannabis community today by stating that the Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department may crack down more on recreational marijuana across the nation. Spicer reiterated that the Trump Administration supports states’ rights on medical cannabis, but didn’t guarantee that adult-use providers would receive the same pledge of federal non-interference. During the campaign, Trump seemed to adhere to a states’ rights position on cannabis laws and longtime advocate Aaron Houston has started a “We the People” White House Petition titled, “Keep your campaign pledge to respect state marijuana laws.”
Personally, while not pleased with Spicer’s comments, I’m not as alarmed as many others are, just yet anyway. Spicer statements could mean a lot of things. Let’s look at the most important statements.
When asked, “Is the federal government going to take some sort of action around this recreational marijuana in some of these states?”
Spicer answers, “I think that’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it.” He then goes on to say that he thinks the Justice Department will be “further looking into” recreational use.
The Justice Department “looking into” recreational use and taking “some sort of action” could be simply that the federal government will scrutinize states’ adherence to the Obama Cole Memo further to ensure that states are doing what they can to minimize illegal trafficking, maintaining safe highways and taking necessary precautions to keep marijuana out of the hands of minors. Businesses found violating state regulations could potentially suffer federal charges as well, particularly if they are caught selling to those under 21. This panic could be much ado about nothing.
However, we must be vigilant and it doesn’t hurt to take action to ensure that the federal government doesn’t even think about going through with the worst case scenario of trampling the will of the voters by arresting and prosecuting cannabis providers complying with state law. With a strong majority wanting the federal government to respect states’ marijuana laws, we are in a very strong position to push back on federal interference. But we must make our voices heard.