In today’s press briefing, White House spokesman Sean Spicer was asked a question from a journalist in Arkansas. He wanted to know if his state’s new medical marijuana amendment would be safe under a Trump Administration.
Spicer replied that medical marijuana is supported by the president, but that is a different issue than recreational marijuana, hinting that the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be taking action against the eight states that have legalized adult-use marijuana. Spicer also implied that the legalization of marijuana is in part to blame for the nation’s epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose death.
SPICER: There’s two distinct issues here: medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. I think medical marijuana, I’ve said before that the president 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, can bring to them. And that’s one that Congress, through a rider in two-thousand eleven?… looking for a little help… I think put an appropriations bill saying that the Department of Justice wouldn’t be funded to go after those folks.
There’s a big difference between that and recreational marijuana. And I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing that we should be doing is encouraging people. There is still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.
I think there’s a big difference between medical marijuana, which states have, the states where it’s allowed in accordance with the appropriations rider have set forth a process to administer and regulate that usage versus recreational marijuana, that’s a very, very different subject.
[CROSSTALK AND A FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: Is the Department of Justice going to take action against these states?]
SPICER: Well, I think that’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe you’ll see greater enforcement of it. Because, again, there’s a big difference between the medical use, which Congress has, through an appropriations rider in 2014, made very clear what the intent of, what their intent was in terms of how the Department of Justice would handle that issue. That’s very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice, I think, will be further looking into.