While President Trump was on the campaign trail, he told supporters that he was in favor of medical marijuana. He also said that anything pertaining to the legalization of cannabis was something that should be left up to the individual states. But then, in true Trump fashion, as we would soon learn throughout the unnerving course of 2017, we witnessed the appointment of Mister “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” Jeff Sessions, who took the reins as leading law enforcement hammer at the U.S Department of Justice. It was the first indication of Trump’s anti-pot policies. And it confused some of Trump’s more loyal supporters in the beginning. They simply could not understand why the president would want to work with a man who has made it his mission to ensure marijuana remains an outlaw substance.
A year has passed since Trump started running the United States on clown shoe politics. Although he, himself, has not taken a vocal stand on the issue of marijuana legalization, his attorney general has had no problem with being the voice of the administration’s anti-pot views. In the past twelve months, Sessions has made countless threats against the cannabis industry. He even wrote a letter to Congress last year asking them for permission to prosecute anyone associated with medical marijuana. Most recently, however, the attorney general rescinded an Obama-era memo (Cole) that has given states the freedom to legalize marijuana without much federal interference since 2013.
By all accounts, Trump’s anti-pot policies indicate that his promise to respect states rights in the arena of marijuana reform seems to have been a lie.
Trump Supporters A Bit Miffed Over Trump’s War on Marijuana
Trump’s anti-pot policies are not settling well for those of his supporters who firmly believed their candidate was sincere about his marijuana views when they showed up at the polls in 2016. It is difficult to tell how this, or any other of Trump’s grade school shenanigans, will translate when the American voters head back to the ballot in 2020. Some of the latest data from Morning Consult shows that President Trump’s approval rating is still strong among the constituencies responsible for helping him win the election.
But there is a relatively solid indication that the president could be at risk of losing those of his supporters in favor of marijuana reform. Considering that the latest polls have shown nationwide support for marijuana legalization at 60 percent, the pot vote could sabotage Trump’s reelection plans.
“Trump needs to realize that a lot of his supporters are pro-cannabis and it would be extremely hurtful to them if he allowed Sessions to move forward with this,” Damara Kelso, a Trump supporter connected to the cannabis industry in Oregon, told CBS News. “It’s not lazy pothead stoners smoking weed all day in their parents’ basement.”
Still, just because President Trump’s cronies have pulled the plug on a non-binding policy allowing states to cultivate and sell marijuana without catching heat from the federal government, doesn’t mean the administration is literally plotting to send in a legion of DEA agents to tear down the industry. Attorney General Sessions, who has said from the beginning that he believes the herb is a gateway drug, and likely the cause of the opioid epidemic, told reporters last year that his department doesn’t sufficient enough resources to put the kibosh on the cannabis industry. Rescinding the Cole memo was basically the administration’s way of emphasizing its overall anti-drug message.
Final Hit: Trump’s Anti-Pot Policies Irk His Supporters
During his confirmation hearing, Sessions told Congress that if they didn’t want him to go after states that have legalized marijuana, they should change the law. The only problem is that Republicans, while largely in favor of states rights, do not seem to want anything to do with taking marijuana legalization to the national level. But the latest polls suggest that the nation may be on the verge of rallying enough elephant-eared support on Capitol Hill to make a difference. Last year, Gallup found that 51 percent of Republican forces are in favor of marijuana legalization. Not bad considering that only one in five Republicans had the guts to express this opinion a decade ago.
Regardless, there have been countless bills introduced over the past few years aimed at legalizing marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco. None of those bills have so much as received a hearing. Sadly, even the most popular pieces of legislation designed to reform the nation’s pot laws typically manage to secure fewer than 30 co-sponsors. This means that in spite of public opinion for legal weed growing stronger, there simply is not enough support in the halls of Congress to get it done.
Even if a bill was pushed through to President Trump today, there is not much of a chance he would sign it. The best bet for the nation is to focus on the elections coming up in 2018 and 2020. Eliminating the grey-haired drug warriors from the U.S. House and Senate, and moving in lawmakers with a more progressive attitude, is going to be key to ensuring that legal marijuana is part of the national economy within the next decade.