On November 8, 2016, a small group of Americans made some pretty important decisions about the future of our nation. Their choices were, to say the least, confusing. Justin Strekal (NORML’s Political Director) explained it best. “The three biggest winners on election night were Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and marijuana.” Marijuana legalization isn’t usually part of the Republican platform so how will Trump’s new administration deal with America’s call for relaxed policies on marijuana legislation? Does President Trump plan to respect state’s rights when it comes to medical and recreational marijuana laws or was that just an empty promise he made on the campaign trail?
Since the election, Trump has kept his plans for cannabis rights a state secret. The best we can do is look at his choices for key cabinet positions to gauge the future of marijuana reform over the next four years. Our new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, famously told the Senate, “good people don’t use marijuana.” He has a long history of supporting the war on drugs and targeting marijuana in particular. So far Sessions has refused to answer any questions about his plans to recognize state marijuana laws but has inferred that he’ll wield existing Federal legislation like a club. “It is not the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce.” In his opinion, if Americans want weed protected, Congress needs to change the Federal laws.
Of course, Attorney General isn’t the only position with an impact on marijuana legislation. While Saturday Night Live joked that President Trump was nominating Walter White as head of the DEA, in reality he’s keeping Chuck Rosenberg. Under Obama, Rosenberg led the administration in raiding numerous legal grows and dispensaries. And Tom Price, notorious for voting down all pro-pot legislation during his tenure in Congress, is our new Health and Human Services Secretary. Having him in that position could definitely threaten our access to medical marijuana. Our one ray of hope is that Trump is considering Jim O’Neill to lead the Food and Drug Administration. O’Neill is a founding member of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (which helped legalize cannabis in California) and he could be a useful ally in the White House.
At the moment, the outlook looks dim for marijuana reform in Trump’s America. It seems like the President plans to stack his administration with mostly anti-pot officials. His lack of transparency on the issue leads us to assume he’ll follow an ignorance is bliss path, allowing his administration to attack legal cannabis farms and dispensaries as they see fit. Perhaps there is still one hope of changing tides and that is to play to Trump's biggest love; ratings. Last year, sixty percent of Americans said they favored outright legalization. In the very election that brought him into power, we voted overwhelmingly in favor of medical and recreational legislation. So our hope is, if we remind Trump the majority of Americans want safe and legal access to marijuana, he’ll rethink his lack of position. It’s time to tweet up a storm, folks. Let your pot leaf emojis do the talking.