Despite well-founded fear in the cannabis culture about the nation’s new president, Donald Trump is unlikely to go after state-level cannabis laws.
Instead, we believe that the Trump Administration will take a hands-off, allow-the-states-to-decide approach that will allow things to continue, for the most part, as they have the past several years.
Here’s a few reasons why:
First off, politics
For whatever you may think of Donald Trump, he knows how to play politics. No one can win the presidency if they don’t.
With that in mind, he knows, without a doubt, that going after marijuana at this stage in the game would be a huge mistake. Cannabis legalization has quickly become a bipartisan issue, and it trends that way more and more each day. There’s no doubt, and no way to argue against the fact, that if Trump doesn’t respect state marijuana laws, he will lose support among many Republicans and Independents, as well as the few Democrats who may support him. If they didn’t stop supporting him entirely (this is a big issue for a lot of people), they would at least be upset (or even enraged) at him because of it, and would be less enthused about supporting him in 2019.
Trump simply doesn’t have enough to gain from going after state marijuana laws, and he knows it.
Trump’s Administration has confirmed that two of the candidates they are considering to head the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are supportive of ending marijuana prohibition. One of them, Jim O’Neil, previously served as a board of directors member for a nonprofit organization that helped legalize cannabis in California.
If Trump does pick O’Neil, the implications are huge. For decades lawmakers have used the fact that the FDA doesn’t recognize cannabis’ medical value as a reason to retain its complete illegality, even for medical use. Having an FDA chief that is open to marijuana and its medical benefits could quickly revoke this argument. Most importantly, it would give Trump an excuse for not going after marijuana states to those conservative supporters of his who want him to do so (“well the FDA recognizes it as a medicine – what can I do?”).
Trump, of course, may pick someone else to lead the FDA, but the fact that he’s even considering someone like O’Neil can be seen as a positive sign – at least for us optimists.
Donald Trump Doesn’t Really Oppose Marijuana
Trump’s public history regarding marijuana simply hasn’t been one of opposition. In the 90s he said he believed that all drugs should be legalized (something he has since walked back – but it’s a position even Bernie Sanders walked back on during his campaign). In the past couple he’s said that he’s in “100% support” of medical cannabis, and believes that states have the right to decide their own marijuana law.
On the campaign he made some disparaging remarks about cannabis – not surprising as a Republican candidate – but stopped far short of saying he would enforce federal cannabis laws or attack those following state law.
He did, of course, pick prohibitionist Jeff Sessions as attorney general, but Trump has final say on what policies are enforced, and having a pro-marijuana FDA chief would also help combat this.
Trump is a Businessman
There’s no way that Trump, a lifelong man of business, doesn’t understand the value the legal cannabis industry brings to the states that have embraced it. It’s highly unlikely he would decided to attack such a burgeoning industry, especially considering the large amount of federal money it would cost to do so.
The only way he might consider doing so is if it brought him political gain, which it wouldn’t (at least not enough to offset the political loss).
For these reasons, and others we won’t go into detail about, we are confident in saying that the legal cannabis industry – and legal consumers of cannabis – will be safe under the Trump Administration; or, at least as safe as they were under the Obama Administration.
If not, feel free to throw this article back in our faces.