On Thursday White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer hinted that the Trump administration will increase enforcement of federal laws against recreational marijuana.
“I think you’ll see greater enforcement, but that is a question for the Department of Justice,” Spicer said during a press conference. Spicer also signaled that the administration will not crackdown on medical marijuana, but leaving administration policy regarding federal enforcement should not sit well with those who support legalization.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has long been an outspoken critic of legalized marijuana, quoted in the past saying “good people don’t smoke marijuana” and he was a fan of the KKK “until he found out they smoked marijuana.” Even if the later statement was a joke, it’s in bad taste and in line with his larger set of beliefs regarding marijuana legalization.
Sessions declared he would “use good judgement about how to handle these cases” during confirmation. Sessions added “I know it won’t be an easy decision, but I will try to do my duty in a fair and just way.”
What exactly that means remains unclear, but it left a lot of room for a potential crackdown and Spicer’s comments might be proving some proponents of recreational marijuana’s biggest fears a reality.
It also represents a huge shift in policy from the Obama administration, who was known for shutting down more medical marijuana dispensaries than his predecessor, but was largely hands off when states moved towards legalization. Despite the clear violation of federal law such a move represents.
Therein lies the big problem for people who support legalization. Jeff Sessions has clear motive and authority to crack down on legal marijuana. With the exception of Alaska, the policy has so far been only been adopted in states Donald Trump lost. Many states which Trump dominated have been slow to adopt even medical marijuana and many have taken legal action against their neighbors for pursuing less stringent marijuana policy.
Only time will tell what exactly Spicer’s ominous comments mean, but it’s clear that the administration has the legal ability to do whatever they want and if past comments are any indication they do not want legal marijuana.
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