The Trump Administration has proposed the removal of a rider provision protecting state-legal cannabis businesses from the federal government’s interference.
This comes with the release of his fiscal year 2021 budget plan.
The rider in question specifically states the Justice Department can’t use federal funding to prohibit states or territories “from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
Removing this provision would leave a lot of room for government interference, potentially destroying many state-legal businesses.
This action comes contrary to many things President Trump has said and expressed in the past. Most famously, declaring that cannabis legalization should be a state issue. What he is pushing now directly negates that previously spoken belief.
“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 … it does do pretty good things,” Trump said on the 2016 campaign trail. “But from the other standpoint, I think that it should be up to the states.”
Donald Trump also previously spoke in favor of the STATES Act, a bipartisan bill that protects legal cannabis states from federal interference.
When asked if he supported the legislation filed by Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren and Republican Senator Cory Gardner, he said “I really do. I support Senator Gardner.” Trump said in 2018. “I know exactly what he’s doing. We’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes.”
To add fuel to the already ablaze fire, President Trump was heard in a leaked audio clip say that he believes smoking cannabis makes you lose IQ points, though experts seem to disagree.
This rider has been renewed every year since 2014, however, it has faced scrutiny in the past, with President Obama asking for it to be removed during his time in office.
Trump is choosing to take it a step further than Obama by stating he could ignore any medical marijuana protections provided by Congress. This was revealed in his large-scale spending legislation released in December.
The President wrote in a signing statement “Division B, section 531 of the Act provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds made available under this Act to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories.” Trump continues by saying “My Administration will treat this provision consistent with the President’s constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.”
By calling out this rider specifically, Trump is vaguely saying he believes his administration can enforce federal drug laws that interfere with the state’s laws, even though there is a provision saying he can’t.
Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget also includes a rider that prohibits Washington D.C. from using local tax dollars to regulate the legal sale of cannabis.
Donald Trump has given the cannabis community good reason to believe that he supports them and their cause. These recent actions and statements may prove otherwise.