As the president travels around the nation whipping up support for his re-election, analysts have been surprised at how openly he is backing away from his 2016 campaign vows to protect such government programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social safety net organizations.
Now, in his budget proposal for fiscal year 2021, he is also proposing an end to existing policy that protects state medical marijuana programs from Justice Department interference. In addition, the budget includes a provision that would continue to prohibit the District of Columbia from regulating the sale of marijuana for adult use.
Promises made, promises broken
This move is the opposite of what Trump said during his 2016 campaign and since then.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), provided a clip of a 2016 radio interview in which Trump stated his support for leaving medical cannabis up to the states.
Would he dare? Keith Stroup says no.
“I doubt that Trump will dare interfere with the 33 state medical marijuana programs, because of the political backlash that would likely result (around 90% of the American public favor the medical use of marijuana) although it is concerning that he would even propose such a change in federal policy,” Keith Stoup, NORML founder and its current legal counsel, told the Weed Blog.
What led to this?
In June 2019, the House of Representatives approved by a 267-165 vote a bipartisan amendment that would protect all state-legal cannabis programs from interference by the U.S. Department of Justice, rather than just medical cannabis systems.
Unfortunately, the Republican-controlled Senate did not follow suit and the provision was excluded in final fiscal year 2020 legislation that was sent to Trump’s desk.
Attached to Trump’s large-scale spending legislation in December 2019, was a statement noting that he reserved the right to ignore the provision and held out the possibility that the administration could pursue legal action against states and territories that legalize marijuana for medical use.
Revenge from the White House
As Politico pointed out in April 2018 Trump endorses states’ rights, but only when he agrees with the state.
For example, the Trump administration went after California and threatened to sue over its so-called sanctuary policies that shield undocumented immigrants from deportation. As a result, then Attorney General Jeff Sessions “unleashed federal prosecutors to go after marijuana businesses in the states that have legalized cannabis sales,” starting with California.
By proposing an end to state medical marijuana protections Trump is potentially putting thousands of Americans at risk, says Stroup.
Instability in the White House
“As long as we have an erratic and confused nutcake in the White House, anything is possible and we must all remain vigilant,” Stroup said.
“But in the long run, I am confident we will continue to expand marijuana legalization across more and more states, and there is little Donald Trump can do to stop it.”