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Legal Weed Is Spreading Like Wildfire Across America. Will a Trump Administration Fight to Stop It?


Weed Trump
 The Wildfire is an opinion platform and any opinions or information put forth by contributors are exclusive to them and do not represent the views of IJR.

Image Credit: Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images, IJR Photo Edit

The crusade to decriminalize marijuana is one that has spanned presidential administrations, with little success at the federal level. The last eight years have been no exception.

During a March 2015 interview with President Obama, Vice asked about the most suggested topic from its viewers: marijuana legalization.

But in August of 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) decided against rescheduling marijuana (and industrial hemp) and Obama declined to take any action on legalizing marijuana.

Though during the interview with Vice, Obama makes mention of Congress descheduling it, that was an action that he could have initiated on his own. Reason.com explained in an article that predated Obama's interview with Vice:

While Congress can amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to increase or reduce restrictions on particular drugs, the statute also gives that power to the attorney general, who has delegated it to the Drug Enforcement Administration (a division of the Justice Department).

So, marijuana legalization advocates will see the end of yet another administration with no federal movement toward de- (or re-) scheduling marijuana and will have to look to the incoming Trump administration for hopes of progress. But, will they see any?

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

According to an article at Governing.com, 33 states (including those who passed legislation in November 2016) and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for either medical or recreational use. In fact, it is easier to list states that haven't enacted legislation making some form of marijuana legal. Currently, those states are:

  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

But, many of those states have brought legislation to the table in recent years and are likely to do so again in 2017. And marijuana is big business, despite federal laws that impact sales across state lines and make difficult the ability of these businesses to handle banking. Per Fortune, legal weed was expected to rake in nearly $7 billion in 2016 and to be a $21 billion industry by 2021.

David McNew/Getty Images

Trump's incoming administration is a great unknown for those advocating legalization of marijuana and for those states who have already legalized it in any form. Given that Trump could theoretically instruct his attorney general to ignore or enforce federal laws governing marijuana, many kept a close eye on Senator Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearing Tuesday. Unfortunately, advocates were likely left leery and frustrated by answers given by Sessions when asked if he would be enforcing federal marijuana laws.

In response to questions by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) regarding Sessions' thoughts on the separation of powers where marijuana legalization was concerned, he repeated Obama's sentiment that Congress would have to make any change to federal laws governing marijuana:

“One obvious concern is the United States Congress has made the possession in every state and distribution an illegal act. If that’s something that’s not desired any longer Congress should pass a law to change the rule, it is not the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce.”

And in response to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) questioning him on prosecuting those who use marijuana for medical purposes in accordance with state laws, Sessions replied:

“I won’t commit to never enforcing federal law, Senator Leahy, but absolutely it is a problem of resources for the federal government. The Department of Justice under Lynch and Holder set forth some policies that they thought were appropriate to define what cases should be prosecuted in states that have legalized, at least in some fashion marijuana, some parts of marijuana.”

All of which sounds rather ambiguous, until you hear that in April 2016, during a hearing questioning if the Department of Justice was doing its job where marijuana is concerned, Sessions famously said, “good people don't smoke marijuana,” according to an article at Business Insider.  That same article notes that Trump has said he is a supporter of medical marijuana and is likely to let states make their own decisions regarding legalization.

Legalization activists plan a bit of civil disobedience by handing out 4,200 joints (which is legal) and encouraging people to smoke it during Trump's inauguration (which is not legal.) Luckily for them, D.C.'s mayor doesn't appear to be placing a priority on busting any public pot smokers at the event, according to Weed News.

View Comments(9 comments)
DEBWHAT did you expect the muslim pig to say?????   HE WAS A POTHEAD.... AND MAY STILL BE ONE!!!!   HIS DAUGHTER IS A POTHEAD IN COLLEGE.... MADE THE NEWS WITH PHOTOGRAPHS OF HER POT EQUIPEMENT!!!  THIS PIG IS A PIG AND NOT WORTHY OF THIS COUNTRY!!!   THANK GOD MR. TRUMP CAN UNDO ALL THE muslim PIG HAS DONE IN HIS ZEAL TO DESTROY US!!!  BUT WE SHUT ONE MISERABLE SORRY EXCUSE FOR A WINDOW.... AND OPENED ANOTHER, CLEAR, ADAMENT AMERICAN SHARING OUR LOVE OF COUNTRY, MORALITY, HONESTY, AND FAIRNESS..... SOMETHING muslim PIGS OBVIOUSLY KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT.... A FAMILY TRAIT.  LOOK AT THE STUBBORNNESS OF THE MOOOOOOOOO-COW.  HELL BENT ON TELLING OUR KIDS WHAT TO EAT.... AND SLAPPED DOWN OVER AND OVER AGAIN..... THE muslim PIG LOSER KNEW NOTHING ABOUT NUTRITION.... ONLY KNEW HOW TO BULLY AND BE OBNOXIOUS!!!!   GOOD RIDDANCE TO THE muslim PIGS.....  NOW OUR TREASURY IS SECURE FROM THE RAID AND THEFT OF OUR TAX DOLLARS..... HONESTY IS RETURNING..... LIES, AND ABUSE OF OUR CONSTITUTION IS OVER.... AND THE SON OF A muslim PIG WILL GO DOWN IN INFAMY AS THE WORST, MOST IMMORAL, UNAMERICAN PRESIDENT THIS NATIONS HAS EVER HAD!!!!  NOW, CONGRESS.... IS THERE ANY WAY TO END THE PENSION PAYMENTS MADE TO THIS muslim PIG THAT STOLE SO MUCH AND GAVE US muslim MURDERERS, RACE RIOTS, POLICE REBELLION, DEGRADATION OF OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM..... AND MORE!!!!  GOOD RIDDANCE TO BAD PIG RUBBISH..... BOTH PIECES OF PIG SHIT!!!
TruthAlcohol is a killer, cigarettes kill 400,000 Americans a year and nicotine is a poison that is used in 23rd killer! It is more addictive than opoids according to studies done at the University of Wisconsin. The fact that the tobacco plant absorbs a radioactive substance,Polonium 9 from soil has been covered up by the gonna go industry for over 40 years. Look it up! The US government derives revenue from liquor and gonna gomakes the US government the biggest drug dealer in the world. Read the Shafer Report 1972 on Wikipedia for truth and enlightenment. It's clearly states that incarceration for ANY amount of marijuana is unjust! It was made illegal due to the efforts of a lobbyist hired by the DuPont company because help was a rival to the DuPont discovery 
Erica RamondoI don't necessarily object to States deciding on their own what laws they want to pass and enforce, but I don't think any state has the right to subject their neighbors in other states to the negative effects of legalized drugs. If you're a CO resident, you should be able to buy pot in CO. If you're a NE resident, you should not be able to buy pot in CO.  Right now CO is getting greedy by making themselves a drug destination, and the negative effect can be seen all across the US as drug cartels unconstrained by a porous Southern border keep pushing more heroin into the suburbs of states across the country as they lose market share to government supported drug dealers, and drug resellers are stocking up in CO so they can sell weed in their local communities outside of CO.  The US can pass a law that requires states to only sell to residents within those states...or lose federal money. It seems like a happy medium for all.