Everyone is sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to see what President Trump will do about cannabis. At this point, all we can do is share our pure speculation for what is to come as he hasn't made any definite changes.
Trump and the possible future of marijuana
December 12, 2017
Although Trump hasn't made any public statements about marijuana since he's been sworn into office, he has made statements in the past. Trump told Fox News" Bill O'Reilly that he is "in favor of medical marijuana 100 percent." However, he was not so favorable towards recreational use and said that it is "causing a lot of problems" in Colorado where it is legal for adult recreational use.
Everyone in the cannabis industry is on high alert not because of Trump, but who he has nominated for his Cabinet. Trump's nominee for attorney general, Alabama Senator, Jeff Sessions, might fight against the cannabis industry. He's a longtime field lieutenant in the war on drugs and a cannabis hater. He's been reported saying, "We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized." Sessions believe marijuana is dangerous, not funny and, "good people don't smoke marijuana."
Purposefully or not, Trump seems to be collecting anti-cannabis members for his Cabinet. Trump nominated Tom Price, Georgia congressman, to be his Health and Human Services Secretary.
Price is one of the most consistently anti-cannabis members of Congress as he voted against several marijuana proposals before the House. He voted 6 times against amendments preventing the Justice Department from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. He also voted 3 times against a measure that would allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans who might benefit from it. The more I read about Price the more I find it difficult to like him.
John Hudak of the Brookings institution said that an HHS secretary that wanted to make life hard for medical marijuana providers could "file lawsuits against operators who label and advertise marijuana as "medicine" because the FDA has not designated it as such." Because HHS has jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid, they could theoretically "freeze or limit reimbursements to physicians because of their participation in medical marijuana programs" if they are strongly against cannabis use. Thankfully HHS has yet to push this issue, but if it happens then doctors will be less willing to recommend marijuana. It is daunting to think about the power that Price will have to be the President's Health and Human Services Secretary.
Yet another cannabis hater that President Trump chose was Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his vice-presidential running mate. Pence comes from a state labeled as one of the worst states for stoners. Indiana has some of the harshest marijuana penalties in the country as possession of a single joint is punishable by up to a year of incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000. For all you out there planning a cross country trip, avoid this state if you're packing your bongs with you.
The House Bill 1006 was introduced in 2013 to overhaul Indiana's criminal code. The bill originally had a clause in it to lower cannabis possession charges. However, Pence refused to accept the lowered penalties and instead demanded that legislators increase marijuana possession back up to a Class B misdemeanor before signing the measure into law. At a press conference Pence said that "I think we need to focus on reducing crime, not reducing penalties." Many attempts to update Indiana's drug laws failed partially to Pence's strong belief that marijuana is a gateway drug.
Although Trump has surrounded himself with cannabis haters, I want to believe that he will listen to the people when it comes to legalization. According to Quinnipiac University polling, medical marijuana has an 89% widespread support in the USA.
It would not seem realistic for Trump to spend a considerable amount of political capital battling the cannabis legalization when there are other major issues that he wants to address like increasing border security, repealing Obamacare, and revisiting international trade agreements. Economically, it would make sense for Trump to progress legalization since the cannabis industry is estimated to be worth tens of billions if it was moved out of the black market and became regulated.
Only time will tell how the new President will deal with this rising market and if he will let his anti-cannabis Cabinet members influence his decisions.