Ever since Donald Trump moved into the White House – and more so when he nominated Jeff Sessions as his attorney general – a dark cloud has fallen over the cannabis industry (a dark cloud not generated by marijuana smoke). While Trump is wishy-washy on his stance, wavering in what he says, he’s never come out in support for recreational weed. Sessions, on the other hand, has been much more steadfast: he is clearly not down with dope.
Sean Spicer, or Melissa McCarthy, the White House Press Secretary, compounded fears when he told reporters of the US Department of Justice’s plans to launch a full-blown crackdown on legal marijuana with the help of the DEA. Because clearly our nation has no other, more pressing concerns.
Spicer was quoted as saying, “I do believe you will see greater enforcement of it.” But he also conceded that the scope of the crackdown was something in which he wasn’t privy.
He excluded medicinal marijuana, stating that (Trump) “Understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases, and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them.” He further added that the Department of Justice wasn’t concerned with medicinal users.
Instead, it’s recreational that has everyone high all the time and worshiping Satan. And that’s where the government’s focus will lie.
Playing Games or Game Over?
While some people see this as an idle threat, chalking it up to more of that pesky fake news Trump oh so hates, others are scared. The White House administration does have the power to at least cause havoc in the marijuana industry. And they’re also busy pushing a propagandist agenda.
Per CNN, Spicer went on record linking the US’s opioid epidemic on marijuana. He was quoted as saying,
“When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people,” Spicer said.
“There is still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and drugs of that nature.”
He failed to mention the scientific evidence that proves the opposite: cannabis doesn’t add to opioid use, it decreases it. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that, between 1999 and 2010, states where medical marijuana was legal had 25 percent less opioid overdoses than states where it remained illegal.
Doctors even prescribe cannabis as a way to get off of opioids. What they’ve found is that many patients are successful in making the switch. This is because of marijuana’s ability to calm the nerves, quite cravings, reduce pain, and bring about relaxation. It’s not surprising that this was left out of Spicer’s rhetoric; as Trump tries to phase out the EPA and, heck, the environment all together, his administration’s appreciation for science isn’t exactly inspiring…or in existence.
In the event that a crackdown does occur, the states that have legalized recreational marijuana may no longer be allowed to grow it or sell it. But Colorado has a backup plan.
Colorado Lawmakers Weighing Protection
Colorado lawmakers are taking precautions to protect their state and the profitable industry of cannabis. Per the Marijuana Times, this bill – if passed – would enable recreational businesses to automatically switch their licenses to medicinal.
In essence, every recreational retail store would instantly become a medical shop. If and when Sessions sends his agents in to seize each leaf from the recreational industry, they’d walk away empty handed:
There’d be no recreational businesses to raid
The sponsor of the bill is Senator Tim Neville, a Denver Republican. He was quoted as saying, “If there is a change in federal law, then I think all of our businesses want to stay in business somehow. They’ve made major investments.”
Of course, as good as this bill sounds, it’s not without its downside: it’d come at a huge cost, around 100 million dollars. This is due to the difference in taxation: recreational and medicinal are levied differently and by a lot – recreational sales are taxed at 17.9 percent while medical sales are taxed at 2.9 percent.
Yet the ends might justify the means: according to Forbes, last year Colorado crossed the billion-dollar mark in annual sales – losing recreational through raids would be devastating for commerce, much more devastating than waiting for the storm to pass with some creativity. This potential law also allows businesses to stay in business and keep their workers employed.
Besides, the downside becomes a bit of a moot point. Losing the tax percentage on recreational weed won’t matter if there’s a crackdown and no recreational weed is sold in the first place.
Still, some people fear an overreaction – Colorado gets word of federal interference, recreational shops turn to medical ones, and the federal interference doesn’t ever happen: Trumps goes off to Mar-a-Lago and forgets about it. Then, Colorado’s out of tax revenue for acting prematurely.
Colorado isn’t the only state that’s preparing for a worst case scenario: Washington is weighing a different kind of law.
Their bill would ban law enforcement at the state level from cooperating with federal agents when those agents are working on cases regarding state-sanctioned cannabis businesses.
No one knows for certain which way cannabis will go. With more states legalizing, particularly California, it’s become clear that people’s mind are changing and broadening. Yet the minds of the federal government are doing the opposite. Or they’re pretending that they are.
This is one of the major problems – no one can predict what the Trump administration will do. The threat of action might be enough for them – they may hold a few press conferences and assume that’ll do, that’ll keep everyone on their toes – or they might take action. Only time will tell, but the states who’ve legalized are preparing, just in case.