There is a distinct possibility that the recreational cannabis industry is about to be shut down by the Trump Administration.
Earlier today, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that he expects the U.S. Department of Justice and the DEA to launch a full-blown crackdown on legal marijuana soon.
“I do believe you will see greater enforcement of it,” Spicer said, adding that the scope of the potential crackdown is “a question for the Department of Justice.”
However, if Trump does send in the dogs of the drug war to rip into legal states, they won’t be attacking the medical marijuana sector. Spicer told reporters that President Trump “understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases, and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them.” The DOJ will not be “going after those folks,” he added.
But “recreational marijuana, that’s a very, very different subject,” Spicer said.
According to a report from CNN, Spicer stood before the press on Thursday and attributed the opioid epidemic currently running rampant in the United States to the use of marijuana.
“When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people,” Spicer said. “There is still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and drugs of that nature.”
There has been a great deal of concern pulsing through the cannabis industry over whether U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will continue to allow legal weed to stand without federal interference. Some of these businesses have expressed genuine fear over the potential for a crackdown, while others have maintained the opinion that the industry is too lucrative for the federal government to stop it on a dime.
However, policy experts, like John Hudak of the Brookings Institution, recently spoke out against the arrogance of the industry, calling the market “small by any metric of American capitalism,” before explaining that legal marijuana was in no safe from Uncle Sam.
“You are a speck of dust in a clutter of dirt of American capitalism," he said. "The president is planning to repeal the Affordable Care Act. If you think that hospitals, doctors and the pharmaceutical industry are small enough to be shaken down by the president, but the cannabis industry is too big to face the same challenge from the president, once again, you’re insane.”
Although U.S. Attorney General Sessions has been rather vague with respect to this issue, the undertones of his statements during his confirmation hearing should have been considered a warning.
After all, Sessions did say he “will not commit to never enforcing Federal law,” and eve went as far as to suggest that if federal lawmakers were so worried about what he would do to legal marijuana, then “Congress should pass a law to change the rule.”
“It is not so much the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce,” he added. “We should do our job and enforce laws effectively as we are able.”
Regardless, it is becoming apparent that democracy has been compromised in the United States. While the Trump Administration plots to dismantle decades of progress with respect to marijuana legalization, the latest Quinnipiac Poll shows that 71 percent of the population believes the federal government should “respect state rights” and handle marijuana in the same way it does with alcohol.
National cannabis advocacy groups emerged today, disappointed by the latest comments by the White House, especially on a day when a respected poll shows the highest percentage of support for legal marijuana in the history of America.
“The vast majority of Americans agree that the federal government has no business interfering in state marijuana laws,” Mason Tvert, a spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “This administration is claiming that it values states’ rights, so we hope they will respect the rights of states to determine their own marijuana policies. It is hard to imagine why anyone would want marijuana to be produced and sold by cartels and criminals rather than tightly regulated, taxpaying businesses. Mr. Spicer says there is a difference between medical and recreational marijuana, but the benefits of and need for regulation apply equally to both.”
If Trump does impose a crackdown, the eight states that have legalized the leaf for recreational use would no longer be allowed to cultivate and sell marijuana in retail outlets. However, marijuana would still be legal in those jurisdictions, there just wouldn't be anywhere to get it without leaning on the black market.
There are concerns that a federal crackdown in states like Colorado, where legal weed generated over $1 billion last year and created tens of thousands of new jobs, could cause a recession.
Market analysts recently predicted the cannabis industry would soon employ more people than the manufacturing industry. The same report also shows that legal marijuana is (was) on its way to generating in upwards of $24.5 billion in sales by 2025.