As with many issues, President Donald Trump has said wildly different things regarding his opinions on legalized marijuana, medical or otherwise. Let’s break some of that down.
April 1990 – The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports that, during a luncheon held by the Miami Tribune, Trump said that “we’re losing badly on the war on drugs. You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profits away from these drug czars.”He also apparently suggested around that time that tax revenues from the drug trade could be used to educate on the dangers of drugs.
June 2015 – When asked during the CPAC Conference about Colorado’s legalization, he responded that, “I say it’s bad. Medical marijuana is another thing, but I think it’s bad, and I feel strongly about it.” When asked if legalization was a state’s rights issue or not, Trump responded: “If they vote for it, they vote for it. But, you know, they have got a lot of problems going on right now in Colorado. Some big problems.”
October 2015 – Trump told the Washington Post that, “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state.” This answer came while taking a handful of questions during a rally at a casino outside of Reno, Nevada, and came hours after the third Republican debate, which was held in Colorado.
February 2016 – On the Bill O’Reilly Show, Trump expressed seemingly contradictory stances on cannabis, saying that he’s “in favor of medical marijuana 100%.” and that “I know people that have serious problems and they did that they really — it really does help them” However when O’Reilly suggested that drug dealers were exploiting legal cannabis in Colorado to sell elsewhere, Trump responded that the industry was a “real problem.”
October 2016 – When marijuana came up at a rally in Nevada (which had recently voted to legalize), he responded, “Marijuana 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.” After the applause died down, he continued: “And of course you have Colorado. And I love Colorado and the people are great, but there’s a question as to how it’s all working out there, you know? That’s not going exactly trouble-free. So I really think that we should study Colorado, see what’s happening.”
Despite campaign promises, since taking office the Trump Administration has not taken kindly to either legalized or medical cannabis. Vice President Pence, for example, is known to be opposed to cannabis and was Governor in a state that has some of the strictest cannabis laws. As Governor of Illinois, he refused to allow a clause in HB1006 (a bill designed to overhaul Indiana’s criminal code) that lowered possession charges and even demanded that legislators bump possession back up to a Class B Misdemeanor. His Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has turned his gaze to focus on removing federal protections from the Obama Administration that shield states that have legalized medical or recreational cannabis from federal interference. This after assuring lawmakers during his confirmation process that federal enforcement of marijuana laws in legalized states won’t be a priority for the Administration. While it is concerning, many Governors in legalized states, even those who opposed legalization in their states, are saying that they’ll use the tools available to them to protect their citizens’ rights. The fight is far from over.