Will the Trump Administration Weed Out Medical Marijuana?
The president-elect previously has said that regulating cannabis is a state issue—but some of his closest advisers think otherwise.
Medical marijuana had a yuge win on election day.
In each state where the issue was on the ballot—Florida, Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota—voters supported initiatives that would provide or expand patients’ access to cannabis products for ailments that include post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and glaucoma.
All told, 29 states and the District of Columbia now have legislation permitting medical marijuana.
But come January, will the Trump administration allow this to continue?
That’s a question, because while the states may be the laboratories of democracy, the United States government is the ultimate arbiter in this case. Under federal law, marijuana, regardless of its intended use, remains illegal.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has signaled that it prefers to keep it that way. In August, the government agency announced that it would continue to classify marijuana as a Schedule I substance—placing it in the same category as heroin, LSD, and other drugs that have a high potential for abuse and no medical value.
As such, federal prosecutors across the country go after marijuana growers at their own discretion. The Obama administration has issued guidelines on this, suggesting, for instance, that law enforcement officials should not harass patients but should instead look with suspicion at “large-scale, privately-operated industrial marijuana cultivation centers” that are poised to earn millions of dollars by growing tens of thousands of plants.
Previous statements by president-elect Donald Trump suggest he favors a similar approach. This past February, when Fox News host Bill O’Reilly denounced medical marijuana as a “ruse,” Trump countered. “I know people that have serious problems … it really does help them,” he said.
And last year at a political rally, Trump said, “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” adding, “I think medical should happen—right? Don’t we agree? I think so.”
Photo credit: Jim Wilson, New York Times