Before you light up, you might want to stock up. Because the new president won’t be honoring state laws that allow recreational use of marijuana, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on February 23.
At a briefing that evening, he said:
“There’s a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.”
Spicer also referred to marijuana as a gateway drug, falsely claiming it led to “opiod addiction(.)”
Since 2012, eight states passed laws allowing recreational use of marijuana, with some as late as November 2016. Another 26 states allow medical use of cannabis by prescription; such pot usage is not at risk, Spicer told media.
The Dept. of Justice can’t attempt to prosecute possession for medical use, either, after a provision in a large bill, passed December 2014, specifically allowed it.
But those states currently allowing recreational use – California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada – can expect “greater enforcement,” Spicer said.
While Spicer eventually deflected to the Dept. of Justice on the issue, new Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced intentions to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in those states during his confirmation hearing in January.
“The U.S. Congress made the possession of marijuana in every state — and the distribution — an illegal act. If that’s something that’s not desired any longer, Congress should pass a law to change the rule.”
It’s not only the threat to legal marijuana that bothers many, inspiring a slew of opposing statements from many organizations overnight. It’s the fallacy in Spicer’s statements that are generating the most criticism.
In a February 24 writeup, The Washington Post notes:
“First, marijuana has nowhere near the same addictive or potentially lethal properties that opioids do. Second, Spicer seemed to imply that recreational marijuana use could lead people to try more dangerous drugs — a controversial claim commonly called the ‘gateway drug’ theory.”
This announcement also contradicts Trump’s campaign statement on marijuana, too. In October 2015, he told media:
“In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state.”
Last year, legal sales of marijuana in the U.S. reached $6.9 billion, according to Arcview Market Research, gaining 28 percent in just one year from 2015’s $5.4 billion. Arcview projected legal sales to continue at this very high rate, reaching $21.6 billion by 2021. All projections become null and void if sale of marijuana is prosecuted, however.
According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, 59 percent of Americans support legalization of marijuana for recreational use, and 71 percent think the government shouldn’t enforce federal laws in the eight states currently allowing it.
This approval is found across the board, too, and in practically all demographics – except for this notable variation: Only 35 percent of Republicans support legal weed.