Since the outset of his 2016 campaign for the Presidency, Donald Trump’s views on cannabis legalization in the United States haven’t been a major story. During the campaign, Trump mentioned that he would like to give each state, instead of the federal government, the authority to legalize cannabis. However, when he was elected President and appointed notorious anti-cannabis politician Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, many in the cannabis community lost hope that the federal government would not interfere in state cannabis laws. Sessions, who once joked that he thought the KKK was “OK until I found out they smoked pot,” quickly rescinded Obama-era protections for states who have already legalized cannabis.
Cannabis Policy Shift
Sessions ended the protections of the Cole memo, which prohibited the Justice Department from using federal funds to prosecute those acting in accordance with state cannabis laws. This left states that have legalized medical cannabis in legal limbo. However, in a surprise turn for his administration, on June 8th, 2018, Trump spoke out in support of protecting state cannabis laws. Trump said he would “probably” support a bipartisan cannabis bill from Senators Cory Gardner (R) and Elizabeth Warren (D).
United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded the Cole Memo, the Obama Administration-era policy that prevents funding from being used by federal prosecutors to crack down on states with legal cannabis. #legalize #jeffsessions #doesntknowthefacts #standup #medicalmarijuana #medicalmarijuana411 #cannabis
What The Cannabis Bill Would Accomplish
According to CNBC, the bill “does not seek to legalize marijuana, but instead proposes an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act, protecting people who choose to use marijuana, so long as they comply with local state or tribal laws.” The Gardner-Warren bill would also clarify that “compliant marijuana transactions are not considered trafficking, and, finally, removes industrial hemp from the list of substances prohibited under the CSA.”
Though the bill would not actually end the federal prohibition of cannabis, it would finally allow states autonomy over their own cannabis laws. The fact that Trump supports the bill will likely drastically increase the chances of its passage. What is intriguing about Trump’s seeming reversal is the rift that it furthers between Trump and his own Attorney General. Sessions is most definitely not a supporter of the bill and it will be very interesting to see how Sessions’ Department of Justice will interact with legal cannabis states should the bill pass Congress.
The bill will likely face some editing and further scrutiny over the coming days before it sees a vote. When it does face a Congressional vote, thanks in part to President Trump’s backing and some bipartisan support, the Gardner-Warren bill will have a high likelihood of passage. If it does pass, the bill will finally establish federally backed state cannabis protections.
Lane is based in Southern California and is a content curator for Medical Marijuana 411. He focuses his research into finding informative stories that can help medical marijuana patients better understand their diverse medicine.