During the White House Press Briefing on February 23rd, 2017, Press Secretary Sean Spicer replied to a reporter’s question regarding the dissonance between Department of Justice’s enforcement of marijuana laws and states’ rights regarding the usage for both medicinal and recreational.
While it is commendable and comforting to hear President Donald Trump empathizes with the pain and suffering that terminally ill patients endure and recognizes cannabis as a homeopathic remedy to ease their symptoms, it was equally disconcerting that the Trump Administration will not recognize individual state laws as they apply to recreational use.
By ignoring state laws where recreational use of cannabis is legal, the Trump Administration is choosing to ignore constituent wishes and jeopardize state programs funded by tax revenue. By picking and choosing where they ignore states rights, Attorney General Jeff Sessions thumbs his nose at one of the most traditional of Republican values, and directly contradicts his sworn testimony during his confirmation hearing where he stated that he would not stop legal programs that states adopt “absolutely.”
To cement the case against recreational marijuana, Mr. Spicer attempted to draw a connection between cannabis and opioid abuse. Research continually proves that marijuana is not a gateway drug, and data confirms that addiction rates for opioids outstrip cannabis the way NASCAR outpaces mall walking.
Public opinion also strongly favors marijuana legalization, across party lines and through every age demographic. Restricting legal access to cannabis increases opioid addiction and the death rates associated with it. Simply put, legal access to cannabis has shown dramatic reduction in demand for opioids
Stricter enforcement of federal cannabis laws only serves to stretch government resources for very little gain; it will limit jobs, lessening tax revenue. Illegal importation will increase, putting funds in the hands of criminals and lowering quality with no regulations governing growth and distribution, leading to more insidious crimes.
With no evidence to back a regression in enforcement policies, President Trump and Attorney General Sessions squander resources that improve homeland security, education, and healthcare. Economic growth in the industry is expected to surpass 800 percent over the next decade to over $50 billion. Regressive enforcement is simply bad business.