Trump Presidency Chaotic, Except on Cannabis (Thus Far)


Donald Trump came into office as a complete wildcard on a number of federal policy issues, cannabis included. During the campaign, he stated that he supported medical marijuana and that legalization should be left up to the states, even though he personally opposed ending prohibition. However, Trump’s authoritarian tendencies and emphasis on law-and-order alarmed many Drug War opponents. The appointment of Reefer Madness Jeff Sessions as attorney general sent shockwaves through the cannabis community, but while the Trump presidency has been extremely chaotic thus far, federal cannabis policy has virtually remained the same as the status quo inherited from the Obama administration.

Jeff Sessions has announced a policy change on civil asset forfeiture and called for a comprehensive review of Uncle Sam’s law enforcement policy, including on how the feds should deal with state cannabis laws, but thus far, no news remains good news. The cannabis community recently received some great news on the legislative front as the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bipartisan amendment prohibiting the Justice Department from using any federal funds to target state-legal medical cannabis providers. While his former Senate colleagues have had Sessions’ back on the attacks he’s faced from Trump, they overwhelmingly rebuked him by tying his hands on enforcing federal marijuana law in medical cannabis states.

There has been so much turmoil within the first 6 months or so of the Trump presidency, that it is hard to follow all of the shakeups. It is rather amazing to see a National Security Advisor, Press Secretary, Chief of Staff and Communications Director already kicked to the curb. The chaos on the White House probably bodes well for the cannabis industry as it has to be hard for anyone to really focus too much time on a low law enforcement policy like marijuana with multiple investigations into possible collusion with Russia plague the administration and staff infighting boils over into the media virtually daily.

It is no secret that Donald Trump seems hell bent on undoing President Obama’s legacy. While far from perfect, the Obama administration did make some positive strides on criminal justice reform and cannabis policy. While our nation took a step back on asset forfeiture, our federal marijuana policy has maintained the status quo thus far, a good sign all things considering. We still have so much work to be done, starting with access to banking, correcting the IRS code and protecting recreational businesses from federal interference, but by all accounts the future still looks bright for the cannabis industry, despite (or partially thanks to) the turmoil of the Trump administration.

No matter what the Trump administration decides on cannabis policy, the industry won’t be stopped and it is important to be informed. The International Cannabis Business Conference is the best place to learn from experts and network with other professionals and advocates. The next ICBC is in Kauai, Hawaii, this December. 

Featured image: Courtesy of Donkey Hotey

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.