According to a report from Marijuana Moment, President Trump has proposed ending an existing policy that protects state medical marijuana programs from Justice Department interference. The proposed end comes as part of his fiscal year 2021 budget plan released on Monday.
The medical marijuana provision – first put in place in 2014 – states that 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.”
As noted by the Marijuana Moment, “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.”
During last year’s appropriations season, the House approved an amendment that would have provided protections for all state and territory marijuana programs, but unfortunately it stalled in the Senate.
After signing the measure Trump stated that said he is empowered to ignore the congressionally approved medical cannabis rider, stating that the administration “will treat this provision consistent with the President’s constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.”
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) would have a reduced budget under president’s proposal: It would go from the $425 million it was allotted for 2020 to just $29 million for 2021. This marks a 90% decrease.
The Moment notes that some of those dollars for ONCDP would be transferred to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to “improve coordination of drug enforcement efforts among Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in the U.S.” through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, the document states. Other dollars for grants to local anti-drug groups would be moved to the Department of Health and Human Services. ONDCP, which is an office within the White House, applauded Trump’s request for $35.7 billion to fund “counter-drug efforts” in a press release. Jim Carroll, the offices’s director, said “President Trump has brought a relentless, whole-of-government approach to combating the crisis of addiction in our country.”
“The FY 2021 budget request sends a strong message that, although we’ve seen signs of real progress, the Trump Administration will not let up in our efforts to save American lives,” he said. “Whether it is going after drug traffickers, getting people struggling with addiction the help they need, or stopping drug misuse before it starts, this budget request ensures our partners will have the resources needed to create safer and healthier communities across the Nation.”
The budget also prioritizes funding for the implementation of a domestic hemp program since the crop was legalized. It calls for $17 million for 2021 for the program, which “provides a national regulatory framework for commercial production of industrial hemp production in the U.S. through regulations and guidance.”
“In addition to those regulated under USDA plans, USDA approves state and Tribal nation plans to provide licensing services, technical assistance, compliance, and program management support,” the budget states. “In 2021, USDA will administratively implement fees to cover the Government’s full cost for providing services to beneficiaries of this program.”