Support for medical cannabis and states’ rights to choose their own path on cannabis policy has increasingly become a bipartisan issue. Virtually every major presidential candidate during the last two elections has stated support for states’ rights to legalize and regulate cannabis, particularly for medical use.
While President Trump’s administration caused some alarms when he appointed Jeff “Good People Don’t Smoke Marijuana” Sessions as Attorney General and tension was heightened when Sessions repealed President Obama’s Cole Memo policy that mandated a federal hands-off approach regarding state cannabis programs, the Trump administration has maintained a states’ rights positions. Unfortunately, alarm bells have gone once more after Trump’s latest budget proposal okays federal agents trampling the will of state voters that have legalized medical cannabis.
In his recently released 2021 federal budget proposal, the president has called for ending existing federal protections that limit the federal government from interfering in the state-sanctioned regulation of medical cannabis. Doing so would place thousands of medical cannabis providers and the millions of patients who rely on them at risk for criminal prosecution.
Most recently, Marc Lotter, the director of strategic communications for Trump’s 2020 campaign, stated in an interview that the administration is intent on keeping marijuana illegal under federal law. “I think what the president is looking at is looking at this from a standpoint of a parent of a young person to make sure that we keep our kids away from drugs,” he said. “They need to be kept illegal, that is the federal policy. I think the president has been pretty clear on his views on marijuana at the federal level, I know many states have taken a different path.”
Let’s be clear — the policy that the administration wants to keep in place is the same failed policy that has existed since 1970, which opines that the cannabis plant should remain classified in the same category as heroin and possesses no accepted medical value. This position doesn’t comport with either public opinion or scientific reality
Mr. Stekal is right, of course, Congress needs to ensure that state medical cannabis programs should be protected from federal interference. Actually, we need to go one step further and ensure that adult use programs are protected as well. The people have spoken. Cannabis legalization is here to stay and this administration, and future administration need to respect and follow the will of the voters. Or pay political consequences.