Earlier this week, controversy was struck when comments coming out of the White House, indicated that the Trump administration was about to crack down on recreational marijuana. Press secretary Sean Spicer said, “There is still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and drugs of that nature” and continued to say that the administration would be reviewing the current stance on recreational marijuana. Attorney General Jeff Sessions backed up Spicer’s claim, stating that he would be looking into the current policies left behind by the Obama administration. The comments have led to a panic within the marijuana industry across the country as many try and figure out if the industry is in trouble. However, it now appears that these fears may be somewhat overblown.
“Some Respect for States’ Rights”
According to several Republican lawmakers, the fears are premature as Sessions himself has assured them that he would abide by Obama’s policies, allowing states to create their own laws on the matter and regulate their own industry. In an interview, Sen. Rand Paul said, “He told me he would have some respect for states’ right on these things. And so I’ll be very unhappy if the federal government decides to go into Colorado and Washington and all of these places. And that’s not the (what) my interpretation of my conversation with him was. That this wasn’t his intention.”
Senators Request DOJ Uphold Previous Administration’s Policies
Despite these assurances made privately to some, lawmakers in states that have legalized recreational marijuana or intend on legalizing it have written a letter to the new Attorney General requesting that he uphold the Department of Justice’s policies and not interfere with state laws. The letter is signed by Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Sen. Catherine Cortez Mastro of Nevada, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sen. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Sen. Patty Murray and Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington.
The Mobilization of Recreational Marijuana States
Currently, 1/5 of the country has legalized recreational marijuana. California, Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, Washington and D.C. have all ended prohibition. Rhode Island, New Jersey and several other states are looking to legalize the plant in the near future. Lawmakers in California and Colorado have expressed that they will move forward with the recreational marijuana industry and they plan to fight the government in court if the federal government tries to implement a crackdown.
Contesting the Federal Marijuana Stance
A Republican from Virginia has introduced a bill that would take marijuana off the federal Controlled Substances Act, making it legal on a federal level and thus handing states the right to govern how marijuana policy will work in their state. The bill doesn’t legalize the sale and use of marijuana across the board but it would allow states to make their own decisions regarding the plant. At any rate, there are enough people across the country willing to fight to protect state’s rights to create their own laws that it’s unlikely that the federal government will be able to do any damage without massive upheaval. Beyond this, according to many, the threat is false and the Trump administration intends to keep the Obama policies on marijuana in place.