Medical marijuana, largely believed to be safe from federal interference, suddenly finds itself in a perilous situation. While there’s no need to panic – no matter how high the percentage of your THC strain – there is reason to be cautious.
Per the Hill, GOP lawmakers are blocking the House from voting on an amendment that would bar the Justice Department from pursuing punishment for states that have legalized marijuana.
For the past four years, medical marijuana states have had this protection; without it, Sessions could begin the war against the herb he’s crowed about.
For four years, the Justice Department has been forbidden from using its resources to interfere with states where medical marijuana is legal; without it, the industry could face a tough test of survival
For the past four years, the federal government effectively held state’s right in higher regard; now, they’re back to junior varsity status.
Of course, the Republican party isn’t all in agreement – Dana Rohrabacher (a Republican representative from California – the first state to legalize medicinal weed) – urged his colleagues to allow his amendment due process. He wanted it put to a vote.
Instead, he was told that “It splits the conference too much so we’re not going to have a vote on it.”
Rohrabacher’s amendment is bi-partisan, co-sponsored by Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon. It was part of the previous four Commerce-Justice-Science funding measures while President Obama was in office. It was also included in a bill signed by President Trump earlier in 2017; however, it’s set to expire soon.
State’s Rights and Medical Marijuana
As mentioned above, the disregard for this amendment does bring up the idea of state’s rights, something Republicans usually back. But they also back small government and giving the power of the government to interfere with the medical marijuana industry is not sticking to this ideology at all. It also makes very little sense – the vast, vast majority of Americans back medical marijuana and so do the states;
Medicinal cannabis is on the books in 29 states
A government that represents the people should represent the people’s desires. So why is this even an issue?
According to the Washington Post, it’s an issue because both parties – Republican and Democrat – are for state’s rights as long as those rights fit with their party’s platform.
The way it works is this: the US is a federal system, giving both the federal and state governments the ability to make and enforce laws. But the feds have a long history of enacting laws that interfere with state’s rights no matter the political affiliation.
But federal interference has historically been more common in certain decades – it was commonplace in the 1970s and saw another upswing in the first decade of this century.
Bill Clinton and George W. Bush interfered with state’s rights to an equal degree: they both signed 64 statutes that compromised those rights in some regard.
In other words, neither party is really for state’s rights. It more comes down to “we’re for state’s rights until we’re not.”
State’s Rights and Donald Trump
Donald Trump is following the pattern set forth by his predecessors – the old “I’m for state’s rights, but….” However, in regards to marijuana specifically, Trump repeatedly painted it as a “state issue” while on the campaign trail.
According to Politifact California, Trump went on record several times to say that he supported state’s rights when it came to Mary Jane. And a few of these times include:
In July of 2016, he told a Colorado news station, “I wouldn’t do that (using federal authority to interfere with marijuana). No. I wouldn’t do that. I think it’s up to the states. I’m a state’s person. I think it should be up to the states, absolutely. In March of 2016, Trump told a Michigan radio station, “I think it certainly has to be a state – I have not smoked it – it’s got to be a state decision. I do like it, you know, from a medical standpoint. But from the other standpoint, I think that it should be up to the states.” In October of 2015, he spoke at a rally in Nevada and said, “The marijuana thing is such a big thing. I think medical should happen – right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states. It should be a state situation, but I believe that the legalization of marijuana – other than for medical because I think, medical, you know I know people that are very, very sick and for whatever reason the marijuana really helps them. But in terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state.”
This isn’t surprising, as Trump has flip-flopped on cannabis many times; first, he loves Mary Jane and then he hates her. He’s been quoted for both extremes, stating years ago that all drugs should be legal to insinuating that Colorado has been under martial law since we legalized marijuana. But medical marijuana is where he’s stood steady: he’s always appeared to be an advocate.
Has it changed? Probably not. In reality, Trump probably doesn’t care about the marijuana industry. He certainly doesn’t appear to possess the same hatred for it as his Attorney General. And, let’s face it, there are actual issues our nation is facing, issues where resources and money could be wisely spent.
This makes it feasible to assume that, even without protection, the medical marijuana industry will be okay. It’s always possible that Trump doesn’t want to interfere with it; he just wants us to know that he can.
Besides, there’s still hope; the amendment isn’t dead. A similar amendment was included in the Senate appropriations bill approved over the summer. The final version of the bill isn’t ready yet, but at least the language contains it, giving hope that the amendment will survive after all.