“I certainly think it’s possible,” says HBO’s Bill Maher, host of Real Time and noted marijuana aficionado, when asked whether there could be federal raids in the eight legal marijuana states under a Trump Administration.
Maher sat down with ATTN: for an interview during his holiday hiatus. Marijuana was just one of many topics, including the FBI’s role in the presidential election, the Republican party accepting and suborning Russian electoral interference, and the Democratic Party lost in the wilderness.
“Don’t piss off your old dealer,” says Maher, “… you might have to do that again.”
Maher also has a suggestion for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nominee that would certainly warm the hearts of marijuana legalizers – California’s Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who led the Golden State’s blue-ribbon commission on marijuana legalization, leading to the development and passage of Proposition 64.
Maher’s marijuana comments come at 3:10 in the video.
Now, I still have many people in my social media feed telling me I’m being alarmist about the possibility of the Trump Administration pushing back against legalization. Their defense usually consists of some or all of these considerations:
- Trump said he was “states’ rights” when it comes to recreational marijuana and that he supports medical marijuana “100%”;
- The legalization of marijuana is at 60 percent in the Gallup Poll, it’s too popular for him to spend political capital on;
- There is too much money for the states at stake in the form of marijuana taxes, he won’t want to piss them off;
- Trump’s a businessman first, he won’t stand in the way of marijuana entrepreneurship;
- Trump’s not a culture warrior, he’s got no bone to pick with people who smoke pot.
I’m not soothed by any of those considerations. I’ve been warning for some time now that the pendulum could swing back on marijuana reform. Here’s why I’m not convinced:
1. States’ Rights
It should come as no surprise that most people who say they are for “states’ rights” leave out the “to do what I support” part at the end. Donald Trump’s stated political position on anything should be afforded the same merit as a toddler’s answer to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Besides, there are many actions Trump’s Administration could take against legal marijuana states that would be sold as affirming the states’ rights of their neighbors to not have commercially-produced marijuana flowing over their shared borders.
2. Too Popular
While 60 percent of America may want legalized marijuana, 56 percent of the country wanted a president not named Trump. Remember, medical marijuana had been supported by 70 to 80 percent of Americans when we elected Obama, who said he wouldn’t use scarce federal resources on raiding medical marijuana. We ended up with more medical marijuana raids under his administration than any president prior.
Besides, when Trump discovers that his promises to rid America of illegal immigrants, build a 2,000-mile wall, and restore all the obsolete 20th-century manufacturing jobs we’ve lost are impossible to fulfill, he’s going to need a new easily-hated scapegoat to vilify to distract his low-information alt-right base. Who better than the potheads whose debauchery leads to our heroin overdose crisis (he’ll tell the rubes).
3. Too Much Money For States
Which states? California (where Hillary Clinton notched 55 Electoral Votes), Nevada (Clinton 6), Oregon (Clinton 7), Washington (Clinton 12… er, 8), Colorado (Clinton 9), Massachusetts (Clinton 11), Maine (Clinton 3 / Trump 1), or Alaska (Trump 3)? What’s Trump got to lose pissing off those states? How much support would he lose from their neighboring red states if he’s seen as letting those coastal elites get rich manufacturing legal marijuana that then pours over into their prohibition states?
4. He’s a Businessman
He sure is, with rich friends who run and have stock in pharmaceutical companies, alcohol companies, gaming companies, tourism companies, hospitality companies, drug testing companies, and many other industries threatened by further legalization of marijuana. Rich friends from whom he’ll need to be bundling huge campaign donations for the 2020 re-election campaign. Like Sheldon Adelson.
5. He’s No Culture Warrior
Trump is a guy who can’t let a Twitter criticism from a nobody go by without sending out a barrage of 3am responses. In what sort of esteem do you suppose he holds the marijuana movement which, by and large, supported everybody running for president but Donald Trump? He may not have any issues with pot itself or the people who smoke it, but he just may have a grudge against the movement and industry leaders who opposed him.
As usual, I will include my disclaimer that I hope I am absolutely wrong and Trump turns out to be the president who opens the floodgates for legal marijuana and ends its nationwide prohibition. I will gladly eat heaping helpings of crow should that scenario unfold… so long as I retain the right to say “I told you so” if I am right.