With billions in sales, millions in taxes, thousands of jobs, and most importantly, many people’s lives at stake, the cannabis community is understandably analyzing every piece of information out of the Donald Trump White House that could signal any changes in federal marijuana policy. As neither Trump or Attorney General Jeff Sessions has released an official federal policy, we are left to speculating based upon the best info available. One bit of information that political observers noticed was the removal of the opposition to marijuana legalization from the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) website.
It is certainly possible that some edits of the ONDCP’s website don’t mean anything, but recent news about potential budget cuts proposed by the Trump Administration could end up demonstrating that the ONDCP ”going dark” was a sign of significant policy changes. The ONDCP going offline certainly got the attention of Andrea Fisher, a Montana drug court coordinator as KFBB TV reported:
Adult Drug Court in Cascade County has recently expanded all thanks to a grant that is funded by federal dollars. The current grants are secured for our program right now, but if something were to happen to the ONDCP, that could result in some serious cuts.
“Scaling back is the issue because two of our grants for the adult drug court program we just received last year and that’s what has allowed us to expand.” says Fisher.
As adult drug court continues to expand and be very successful, all of the drug court staff will continue to watch the White House website, hoping that it is just a temporary re-organization.
As news has broken that the ONDCP may be on the chopping block, along with several other federal programs, it appears that the fears of drug court coordinators, and everyone else receiving grants from the Drug Czar’s office, are not unfounded. The New York Times noted that the elimination of the ONDCP seems to be contrary to the president’s “law and order” rhetoric: “Mr. Trump has spoken volubly about the nation’s drug problems, yet the list includes the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, which dispenses grants to reduce drug use and drug trafficking.”
Checking out Marijuana Majority Chairman Tom Angell’s Facebook page, you can see that Drug War opponents have expressed some mixed feelings about the potential elimination of the ONDCP. The Drug Czar’s office has perpetuated Reefer Madness propaganda, but has also implemented some positive policies as well, such as promoting naloxone to combat opioid drug overdoses. And while drug courts are not a great final strategy to fix the harms caused by the War on Drugs, they are often the best possible solution in more conservative areas of the country.
With a bit of experience with the ONDCP, as the Drug Czar sent a contingent to Columbia, Missouri, to illegally campaign against a local decriminalization measure I had the honor of assisting all the way back in 2003, my gut reaction is to say “good riddance” to the ONDCP. The ONDCP’s misinformation campaign earned the ire of Republican Congressman Ron Paul and did irreparable harm to our local campaign. Thankfully, mid-Missouri voters saw finally saw through the propaganda and passed local decriminalization measures in 2004.
The ONDCP is tasked with lying about cannabis and it gave rise to professional prohibitionist Kevin Sabet, the so-called quarterback of the anti-marijuana movement. Throw in the fact that Chris Christie is rumoured to be the next Drug Czar, I won’t shed any tears if the office goes away and flutters into the trash bin of history. (I will cry if Donald Trump kills Big Bird and the rest of the gang on Sesame Street, however.)