White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer recently said the Department of Justice may increase enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that have voted to legalize its recreational use. Spicer said, “there’s a big difference between the medical use which Congress has… made very clear what their intent was in terms of how the [DOJ] would handle that issue.” That intent was a requirement in an “appropriations bill saying the [DOJ] wouldn’t be funded to go after [medical cannabis].” Spicer added, “That’s very different than the recreational use, which is something the [DOJ] I think will be further looking into.” Adding, “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it.”
Spicer then attempted to clarify “I would refer you to the Department of Justice — I think the Department of Justice is the lead on that… but I believe that they are going to continue to enforce the laws on the books with respect to recreational marijuana.”
These comments from Spicer were made the same day a Quinnipiac Poll was published showing that 71% of respondents oppose “the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana.”
As for Spicer’s claim that there’s a difference between medical & recreational use of cannabis, the polling numbers seem to reflect this perception with only 59% responding they believe “the use of marijuana should be made legal in the United States” compared to a whopping 93% who support “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it.”
On the one hand it’s a good thing that laws are not made based on popular opinion, as some horrible things have previously been popularly supported. However when popular opinion reflects a desire for government officials to stop enforcing unjust laws, government officials are the last people to want a change. Not to mention the hypocrisy of the Trump Administration pointed out by Mason Tvert, the communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, who said, “This administration is claiming that it values states’ rights, so we hope they will respect the rights of states to determine their own marijuana policies.”
It should further be mentioned that the War on Drugs is costly, having cost taxpayers over $1 trillion since 1971. And the feds are projected to spend $31 billion in 2017 enforcing the War on Drugs, not including any spending at the state level.
Spicer’s comments should serve to convey that the Trump Administration is out of touch with the American people, and that the War on Drugs will likely continue until state officials tell the feds, “You’re not allowed here.”