The Future of Marijuana Under a Trump Presidency

Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

This post is sponsored by Romano Law, P.C.

Medical marijuana has been known to treat a variety of conditions and life-threatening illnesses. It can help prevent Alzheimers, control epileptic episodes, reduce levels of depression, combat morning sickness and even stave off cancer. As a result of these therapeutic benefits, there are currently 28 states that have legalized medical marijuana.

Some states have gone well beyond merely allowing marijuana use for medical purposes. A handful of states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Possession of marijuana for personal use and recreational use of marijuana is allowed in eight states.

Many people argue that marijuana use is safer than alcohol consumption, as well as less harmful than tobacco intake. However, there is still pushback from many Americans and government officials towards marijuana legalization, and questions have been raised as to whether the Trump administration will attempt to override some of the state laws allowing medical or recreational marijuana use.

Candidate Trump’s Past Opinions on Marijuana

Oregon is one of the handful of states that have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. It has been a long, hard-fought road for marijuana supporters.

In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. Two years later, Oregon followed suit. But in 2016, things began to take a different turn.

Donald Trump, who was hadn’t gleaned the presidential title yet, was seemingly unsure about where he stood in regards to marijuana, recreational or otherwise. On October 29, 2015, presidential candidate Donald Trump had a lot to say about marijuana, in his own way.

“I believe that the legalization of marijuana—other than for medical, because…I know people who are very, very sick, and for whatever reason the marijuana helps them—but in terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” he said.

This was the same opinion he shared in at least three other campaign interviews. It wasn’t too different from President Barack Obama’s approach towards the subject, when states began slowly dipping their toes into the legalized marijuana pool before sliding in. He also believed that those particular laws should be decided state-by-state.

President Trump’s Recent Statements on Marijuana

On February 22, White House press secretary Sean Spicer stated during the daily press conference “I do believe you will see a greater enforcement of [recreational marijuana].”

He ultimately reminded the reporters that it would be a question better answered by the Department of Justice. As it stands now, cannabis is potentially the fastest growing industry in the world. In 2016, regulated marijuana sales in North America totaled $6.9 billion, which is up from $5.4 billion in 2015. At the rate it is going now, sales are expected to increase to $21.6 billion by 2021. But that could all change if what Spicer related holds true.

What the Future Could Hold for Marijuana in America

For now, the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment prohibits the United States Department of Justice from spending any federal funds towards administering federal prohibition laws in states where medical marijuana has already been legalized. That is expected to hold out, and hopefully the White House will focus on more pressing matters.

Despite anti-marijuana opinions held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and uncertainty about the future of the cannabis industry voiced by Spicer, the majority of the United States strongly supports legalization.

A recent poll run by Quinnipiac University showed 71 percent of Americans believe that the government should not impose federal laws against marijuana in states which have legalized medical or recreational marijuana. Furthermore, 59 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization. Hopefully, a celebrity president who’s keen on ratings and a conservative “states’ rights” congress will leave states to decide how to handle medical and recreational marijuana.

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