Playing the guessing game with Donald

As this new administration begins to govern all eyes will be on which turn they take on hemp, medical marijuana and marijuana legalization.  We are left to guess and go off hunches. 

Nobody knows what this man is willing to do. American politics has never seen anything like this, no political experience, sky-high confidence, a man so very rich yet extremely unpopular and divisive.  On account of the fact that he takes a different approach to governance, he says things that people would never have the courage to say.  In fact, everyone including his own team doesn’t know what’s going to come out of his Twitter account. As a result, in order to understand what his presidency is going to do on important issues of today we are left to look for clues in each statement or media release in search of what step he will take next.

The multi-pronged approach to “Make America Better” has made spending cuts, vigorous enforcing of immigration laws and the weakening of regulation the center of his campaign and presidency without regard to opposing opinions or lack of political support.  It’s certain that American politics will never be the same after our first reality star-turned president.

“Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think”

Well, this all leads me and numerous others to wonder what marijuana policy is going to look like under this administration.  This past week the first hints started to emerge from the administration: “I do believe you will see greater enforcement of anti-marijuana laws from the Department of Justice,” Trump’s Press Secretary Spicer stated.  A dozen words from a press conference sent fear into the hearts of those who have come to depend on cannabis and it’s a confirmation of what many have feared since he was elected president.  In the context of recent actions by the Department of Justice in regard to immigration enforcement and private prisons it is within the realm of possibility that a full scale assault on marijuana users could be coming shortly[1].  After confirming Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, we now have the first signs of an attempt to roll back marijuana legalization in states that have legalized the plant for adult use.

Although some had hope based on what Trump said in February 2016 that marijuana that legalization is “good” in “some ways” and “I know people that have serious problems… and… it really, really does help them”.    Yet, we can’t help to look at the company he keeps.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a man that was once denied a position as a federal judge because he was considered too racially insensitive is now tasked with defending the rights of ALL US citizens.  Witnesses at his trial testified that he said that the ACLU was un-American and communist inspired, and that he thought the Klu Klux Clan was okay until…he found out they smoked pot.

Just last week, Sessions went on the record talking about legal marijuana.  He said that the Justice Department will try to adopt “responsible policies” for enforcement of federal anti-marijuana laws.  He added that he believes violence surrounds the sale and use of the drug in the US. “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.”[2]   Studies by the way, have found no correlation between the legalization of marijuana and violent crime rates.  It seems the administration is trapped in the kind of logic promoted by the Drug Wars and the Just So NO campaigns of the 80s and 90s all based on misinformation started by the Reefer Madness of the 1930s. Perhaps the booze, tobacco and pharma lobbies are scared of what legalized marijuana would do to their market shares.

While, the administration may claim to have a populist streak, their own ideology and motives seem to trump the fact that more and more Americans support marijuana legalization in some form (95%).  A record number of people, around 70%, a majority of both republicans and democrats said in recent polling by Quinnipiac University that the government should not interfere with states that have decriminalized the use of the plant. [3]

“It does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States”

Still, Sessions refused to give details of his plans, he simply said that he doesn’t think America will be a better place with “more people smoking pot.”[4]  “I am definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana,” he added. “But states, they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say, it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”

But we can’t just tremble from each draconian step Trump makes, there is a way to fight back and make sure our rights don’t get stomped on. This call for greater enforcement of federal laws has sent quakes through the industry and placed doubt on what states like California, Maine and Nevada can do now since the people have decided to legalize cannabis for adults.  Institutions like NORML, the Cannabis Caucus, and most importantly, your own participation in the democratic process is the best tool to prevent the rollback of progress in marijuana legalization. Get involved locally, spread the word, call your representatives in Congress.

[1] http://blog.norml.org/2017/02/27/four-days-since-the-white-house-threatened-marijuana-consumers/

[2] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/jeff-sessions-legal-marijuana-cause-violent-crime-lack-evidence-cannabis-us-attorney-general-donald-a7604341.html

[3] http://blog.norml.org/2017/02/23/polling-voters-support-marijuana-law-reform-by-record-numbers/

[4] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/jeff-sessions-legal-marijuana-cause-violent-crime-lack-evidence-cannabis-us-attorney-general-donald-a7604341.html

 

Post Author: James McCallum

James McCallum
Native of Virginia with a BA in political science and a Master in International Cooperation.  After getting his feet wet harvesting olives in Andalusia during university, he decided to leave the city behind and for the past five years he has been living a self-sufficient life in Sardinia running his farm along with his wife at La Casa Verde.  Growing all of their own food requires a profound interest and respect for the production of what his family needs and this coincides with his appreciation of the plants and the surrounding world that he believes we are called to use, learn from and protect.

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