Tag: Donald Trump

Bernie Sanders- Joe Biden Task Force Members Advocate For Cannabis Legalization

As Joe Biden campaigns against president Donald Trump, a task force comprised of members of his and Bernie Sanders’ supporters are meeting to discuss various issues. Biden, hoping to avoid a similar fate as 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, has taken the step of forming the task force to try and bridget he divide between progressive and moderate wings of the party.

As Marijuana Moment has covered, the criminal justice task force has been debating cannabis legalization. Progressives hope that the former vice president will get with the times, a supermajority of the party, and a strong majority of American voters, and move from merely supporting decriminalization to supporting legalization:

Most of the group—which consists of advisors appointed by both Biden and former primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)—support ending cannabis prohibition, and advocates have held out hope that they would recommend that Biden adopt the policy platform in the run-up to the November election.

While some members have publicly talked about the issue since joining the task force, including Linn County, Iowa Supervisor Stacey Walker, who recently commented on the need for reform in light of racial disparities in marijuana criminalization, a new report from Politico appears to be the first confirmation that the group itself is actively considering a formal recommendation on the policy change.

From Politico’s report:

Multiple people said marijuana policy has been discussed on the criminal justice panel, one of the policy groups of the unity task force. Sanders appointees have advocated for legalization. Some Biden appointees personally support legalizing pot and have debated putting the policy in the panel’s recommendations to the former vice president, according to two people familiar with its deliberations.

Biden supports decriminalization, but has resisted calls to make cannabis legal—a reform endorsed by the majority of his primary opponents, including vice presidential contenders Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. The criminalization of marijuana has contributed to the country’s mass incarceration problem, disproportionately affecting black men.

Chiraag Bains, a co-chair of the criminal justice task force tapped by Sanders, said Biden should “end the War on Drugs, including by legalizing marijuana.” He said those are his personal views, however, and he was not speaking as a leader of the task force.

It will be interesting to see what direction Joe Biden plans to take, especially if his pick to be his running mate supports legalization, like frontrunner Kamala Harris. With a big lead in the polls, the Democrat may want to play it safe, but he’ll be playing it wrong if he thinks opposing legalization is safe.

Biden will run the risk of getting outflanked by Donald Trump on the issue, who not only wants to win for himself, but may want to throw a lifeline to Republican Colorado Senator Cory Gardner who could use a win on cannabis. Only time will tell, but both presidential candidates would be wise to adhere to the will of the voters and call for an end to the failed and racist policy of cannabis prohibition.

Would Donald Trump Sign a Cannabis Legalization Bill Passed by Congress?

Donald Trump’s position on cannabis has been tough to pin down. During the 2016 campaign, he stated that he supported medical use and that he was a believer in states’ rights regarding legalization. However, the hiring of Reefer Madness prohibitionist Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, signing statements regarding his administration’s ultimate right to enforce federal cannabis laws regardless of state legalization laws, and comments by members of his staff, have caused confusion.

That confusion has only been exacerbated by a recent interview of Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who has a an anti-cannabis history, and the ensuring Twitter beef that sprung out of the interview with reporter Matt Laslo. Marijuana Moment reported:

President Donald Trump’s stance on marijuana legalization became the jumping off point for a spat between a top White House aide, Republican operatives and a reporter on Thursday after Chief of Staff Mark Meadows laughed off a question about the prospects of broad cannabis reform advancing before the election in November.

But the controversy wasn’t solely about the administration’s position on legalization; rather the dispute centered on how freelance reporter Matt Laslo characterized the conversation on Twitter, where he said that Meadows suggested pro-cannabis reform Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) “has been misleading voters on marijuana” and that “Trump has no plan to lift a finger on cannabis legalization or even normalization.”

Laslo also shared audio from the interview and wrote that it showed Meadows “mockingly laugh when I ask if Trump plans to carry through on his promise to [Gardner] to relax federal marijuana laws.”

Some Republicans pushed back on Laslo’s characterization of Meadows’ response and the implications that Colorado Senator Cory Gardner has been misleading his constituents. Gardner is seen as very vulnerable Republican who the Democrats hope to defeat this November. With legalization very popular in Colorado, the issue is an important issue for his re-election prospects.

Laslo responded to his Republican critics on Twitter:

As Politico reported, any type of cannabis legalization legislation would help Senator Gardner, but he hasn’t been able to move the needle in the Republican-controlled Senate:

But so far, the GOP’s most ardent promoter of cannabis in Congresshasn’t delivered any legislative wins for the state’s $1.7 billion, rapidly growing cannabis industry, where marijuana was legalized in 2012. The two major cannabis bills Gardner sponsors — one to increase access to banking and capital for the cannabis industry and one to codify federal protections for states that choose to legalize marijuana — have not advanced in the Senate at all, despite the banking bill passing the House with a bipartisan majority last fall. Gardner does not support any bill that would legalize cannabis nationwide.

“At some point, I have to go to Cory Gardner and say, ‘Why should the industry continue to support you?’” said Marijuana Policy Project’s Don Murphy, a former Republican lawmaker in Maryland. “I know you’re trying, but you’re not getting anything.”

With so many issues facing our nation, it seems unlikely that cannabis legalization legislation will be passed by Congress. With a lot of negative stories dominating the news cycle, it would certainly benefit Trump and Gardner to have a feel-good cannabis story make some headlines, but each day that passes, it seems more and more unlikely this term. We’ll see what the next four years will hold.

NORML: Congress Needs to Stop Trump’s Plan to Derail State Cannabis Laws

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.

Justin Strekal, Political Director for NORML, writes that “Congress should halt Trump’s plan to upend states’ medical marijuana laws” in The HIll:

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.

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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.

Just Say NO to Trump’s Budget Plan to Cut Medical Cannabis Patient Protections

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