President Donald Trump’s budget proposal sent shockwaves through the cannabis community yesterday as his administration’s plan would eliminate protections for medical cannabis patients. Under current federal policy, the William Barr’s Department of Justice is prohibited from using any funds from prosecuting, arresting, and jailing medical cannabis patients and their providers who are following their state’s laws.
This is a surprising move by the Trump Administration as he is going back on a campaign promise and protecting state medical cannabis patients and programs has been a largely bipartisan endeavor over the last few year, thanks to the supermajority support medical use enjoys among Americans. Rarely do politicians want to go against the wish of 85% of voters.
As Marijuana Moment reported, this isn’t the first time that Trump has called for an end to the policy and thankfully, Congress has ignored previous attempts to gut the protections, following the will of the people:
President Trump proposed ending an existing policy that protects state medical marijuana programs from Justice Department interference as part of his fiscal year 2021 budget plan released on Monday.
The rider, which has been renewed in appropriations legislation every year since 2014, stipulates the the Justice Department can’t use its funds to prevent states or territories “from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
This isn’t the first time that an administration has requested that the rider be stricken. Trump’s last two budgets omitted the medical cannabis protections language, and President Obama similarly asked for the policy to be removed. In all cases, Congress has ignored those requests and renewed the protections in spending bills.
While there is a great chance that Congress won’t listen to Donald Trump on his proposal to end federal protections for state-legal medical cannabis patients, his administration’s budget plan is a reminder that we must remain vigilant. The gains that we have made can be taken away at any time. It is rather remarkable that anyone in government would have the notion to authorize the arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment of medical patients legally using cannabis under their state’s law.
The fact that this cruel and ill-advised policy would make its way into the 2020 budget plan of the President of the United States demonstrates how there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve true equality for the cannabis community. The good news is that the people, and the truth are on our side, so we just have to keep working hard to support the right public officials and spread the truth about cannabis.
Featured Photo Credit: Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance