A newly leaked recording shows that President Donald Trump believes cannabis consumption lowers IQ and increases traffic accidents, though it also revealed that some of his allies are pushing him to reform the nation’s marijuana laws, too.
“In Colorado, they have more accidents,” the president said about cannabis use in a recording that went public on Friday. “It does cause an IQ problem.” While the traffic issue remains highly controversial, the IQ issue is not — study after study has shown that cannabis neither lowers IQ nor does it damage the brain.
The recording, released by attorney Joseph Bondy, allegedly took place in April 2018 at one of Trump’s private hotel suites. Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani and a witness at the center of the president’s Ukraine scandal, reportedly made the recording. Parnas, who Trump has denied ever knowing, was arrested in October and charged with violating campaign finance laws.
As detailed by Tom Angell writing for Forbes, weed took the meeting’s center stage when Parnas mentioned the cannabis industry’s lack of access to banking services. After the president acknowledged that state-licensed cannabis businesses couldn’t open accounts with federally-insured banks, Trump said the banking problem “is working out,” then added, “I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.”
In case you’re wondering, the banking problem is not “working out.” Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have blocked all legislative attempts in the Senate to reform the nation’s anti-pot banking regulations. Colorado Senator Cory Gardner has been one of the few Republicans fighting to change the nation’s banking rules.
Later in the recording, Trump asked if cannabis was “actually good for opioids?” Presumably, he wondered if cannabis legalization could curb the opioid epidemic, which he declared a national emergency in 2017.
One unidentified individual present at the meeting told the president that cannabis worked as a “better alternative” to opioid painkillers, while another added that “alcohol does much more damage” than weed, according to Angell.
While the recording indicates that Trump has lied to the press about his relationship with Parnas — claiming earlier in January that he does “not know who this man is” — it also shows that the president may be evolving on his stance toward federal weed legalization, an issue that he previously said should be left to the states.
“It’s so far out you’re not going to stop it,” Parnas told Trump about cannabis legalization. He additionally advised the president to appeal to younger voters by adopting a strong legalization stance prior to the 2018 midterm elections. “I think you need to be ahead of it.”
However, Trump didn’t get ahead of the issue then. After the 2018 midterm elections, the Republicans lost their majority in the House of Representatives and a few seats in the US Senate after what was dubbed the “Rainbow Wave,” where both federal and local US races saw the largest surge of LGBTQ+ individuals winning elected offices in the nation’s history, nearly all of them running on a Democratic ticket.
Regardless, Trump’s impeachment under a Democratically-controlled House could push the weed legalization issue again this upcoming November, where the 45th US President will be running for re-election. The two leading Democratic contenders for the White House — former US Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders — hold opposing views on cannabis legalization, with the former supporting federal decriminalization with fines for possession and the latter supporting full legalization, criminal record expungements, and other social equity provisions.