Trump Says He Can Ignore Medical Marijuana Protections Passed By Congress

President Trump Signs VA Accountability Act

December 21, 2019

Tom Angell

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In a statement attached to a large-scale funding bill he signed into law on Friday, President Trump said in effect that he reserves the right to ignore a congressionally approved provision that seeks to protect state medical marijuana laws from federal interference.

Division B, section 531 of the Act provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds made available under this Act to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories,” Trump wrote in a signing statement. “My Administration will treat this provision consistent with the President’s constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.”

Although the vague language doesn’t directly say he plans to ignore Congress’s will to block Justice Department prosecution of medical cannabis patients and providers, presidents typically use signing statements such as this one to flag provisions of laws they are enacting which they believe could impede on their executive authorities. By calling out the medical marijuana rider, Trump is making clear that his administration believes it can broadly enforce federal drug laws against people complying with state medical marijuana laws even though Congress told him not to.

But it doesn’t necessarily mean that a crackdown is on the way.

The administration hasn’t carried out any major enforcement activities against state-legal marijuana businesses since taking office, in accordance with Trump’s campaign pledges that he would respect the right of states to enact their own cannabis laws without federal interference. That also goes for recreational policies and businesses that aren’t even covered under the congressionally adopted rider, which has been part of federal law since 2014.

It is the third time Trump has said in a signing statement that his administration doesn’t necessarily have to abide by the medical marijuana provision. He included similar language when signing off on annual appropriations bills last year and in 2017, though he did not do so in 2018.

In August, the president reiterated his support for letting states legalize cannabis without federal interference.

“It’s a very big subject and right now we are allowing states to make that decision,” Trump said. “A lot of states are making that decision, but we’re allowing states to make that decision.”

Last year, when asked about separate pending congressional legislation that would more broadly exempt state-legal marijuana activity from the federal Controlled Substances Act, he said he “really” supports the bill.

Given the president’s consistently voiced support for respecting state cannabis laws, it’s not clear why he has gone out of his way to reserve his right to ignore the medical marijuana rider on a near-annual basis.

Among the handful of other provisions Trump singled out in his new signing statement are ones dealing with the closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, restrictions on diplomatic activities and the dissemination of information that may be protected by executive privilege.

The Fiscal Year 2020 funding bill that Trump signed into law on Friday does not contain a broader rider seeking to shield all state marijuana laws—including those that allow recreational use and sales—that had been approved by the House of Representatives earlier this year. It, along with another provision that would have protected banks that serve state-legal cannabis businesses from federal punishment, was dropped from the final legislation in bicameral negotiations with the Senate.

Congressional leaders did include several cannabis-related provisions in a report attached to the legislation, though, such as language directing the Food and Drug Administration to formulate a policy of enforcement discretion for CBD products and requiring the National Institute on Drug Abuse to compile a report on the barriers that the Schedule I status of drugs including marijuana places in front of scientific research.

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RELATED:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-by-the-president-33/?utm_source=link&utm_medium=header

https://kentuckymarijuanaparty.com/2014/01/02/on-legalization-when-the-u-n-comes-a-marching-along-we-will-all-be-singing-a-brand-new-song/

https://kentuckymarijuanaparty.com/2014/10/15/lets-talk-about-corporate-cannabis/

https://kentuckymarijuanaparty.com/2015/05/08/and-all-the-green-fields-will-runneth-red-with-blood/

https://kentuckymarijuanaparty.com/2015/07/09/conflicting-federal-laws-beg-to-differ-on-marijuana-enforcement/

https://kentuckymarijuanaparty.com/2015/10/26/rights-and-freedoms-may-in-no-case-be-exercised-contrary-to-purposes-and-principles-of-the-united-nations-how-the-united-nations-is-stealing-our-unalienable-rights-to-grow/

Supporters formally ask Trump to pardon Leonard Peltier

Friday, June 08, 2018 3:55 p.m. CDT by Jim Monk

Leonard Peltier (ILPDC)

FARGO (KFGO) – President Trump has been formally requested to grant a pardon, or sentence commutation for Leonard Peltier. Peltier is serving life in prison for the 1975 murders of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. His trial was held in Fargo.

Sheridan Murphy is with the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. “All that would necessarily be needed is for the president to see that there was misconduct that’s been admitted” Murphy said. “If you look at the case from a presidential viewpoint, we’re hoping that (the president) can see that there’s questions, there’s a lot of questions about this case.”

A letter written to the president by Peltier attorney David Frankel says Peltier “has been subjected to a vicious campaign of fake news by the FBI.”  The letter also says Peltier is in “very poor health”  and says Peltier’s only desire is to go home to the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation to be with his family.

Murphy says the pardon request is “certainly worth the effort” because he considers Trump a “wild card.” “You have no idea where he’s going to go. I wouldn’t have guessed that a visit from Kim Kardashian would relate to a pardon the next day…so, you never know.”

The White House isn’t commenting.

Clemency petition filed on behalf of Leonard Peltier

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Why Donald Trump’s Agenda for the Drug War Is the Dopiest Thing You’ve Ever Seen

A frightening mix of cruel and superficial.

By Phillip Smith / AlterNet

November 2, 2016

One means of judging the competing presidential candidates is to examine their actual policy prescriptions for dealing with serious issues facing the country. When it comes to drug policy, the contrasts between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump couldn’t be more telling.

The country is in the midst of what can fairly be called an opioid crisis, with the CDC reporting 78 Americans dying every day from heroin and prescription opioid overdoses. Both candidates have addressed the problem on the campaign trail, but as is the case in so many other policy areas, one candidate has detailed proposals, while the other offers demagogic sloganeering.

Hillary Clinton has offered a detailed $10 billion plan to deal with what she calls the “quiet epidemic” of opioid addiction. Donald Trump’s plan consists largely of “build the wall.”

That was the centerpiece of his October 15 speech in New Hampshire where he offered his clearest drug policy prescriptions yet (though it was overshadowed by his weird demand that Hillary Clinton undergo a drug test). To be fair, since then, Trump has also called for expanding law enforcement and treatment programs, but he has offered no specifics or cost estimates.

And the centerpiece of his approach remains interdiction, which dovetails nicely with his nativist immigration positions.

“A Trump administration will secure and defend our borders,” he said in that speech. “A wall will not only keep out dangerous cartels and criminals, but it will also keep out the drugs and heroin poisoning our youth.”

Trump did not address the failure of 40 years of ever-increasing border security and interdiction policies to stop the flow of drugs up until now, nor did he explain what would prevent a 50-foot wall from being met with a 51-foot ladder.

Trump’s drug policy also takes aim at a favorite target of conservatives: so-called sanctuary cities, where local officials refuse to cooperate in harsh federal deportation policies.

“We are also going to put an end to sanctuary cities, which refuse to turn over illegal immigrant drug traffickers for deportation,” he said. “We will dismantle the illegal immigrant cartels and violent gangs, and we will send them swiftly out of our country.”

In contrast, Clinton’s detailed proposal calls for increased federal spending for prevention, treatment and recovery, first responders, prescribers, and criminal justice reform. The Clinton plan would send $7.5 billion to the states over 10 years, matching every dollar they spend on such programs with four federal dollars. Another $2.5 billion would be designated for the federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program.

While Trump advocates increased border and law enforcement, including a return to now widely discredited mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenders, Clinton does not include funding for drug enforcement and interdiction efforts in her proposal. Such funding would presumably come through normal appropriations channels.

Instead of a criminal justice crackdown, Clinton vows that her attorney general will issue guidance to the states urging them to emphasize treatment over incarceration for low-level drug offenders. She also supports alternatives to incarceration such as drug courts (as does Trump). But unlike Trump, Clinton makes no call for increased penalties for drug offenders.

Trump provides lip service to prevention, treatment and recovery, but his rhetorical emphasis illuminates his drug policy priorities: more walls, more law enforcement, more drug war prisoners.

There is one area of drug policy where both candidates are largely in agreement, and that is marijuana policy. Both Clinton and Trump have embraced medical marijuana, both say they are inclined to let the states experiment with legalization, but neither has called for marijuana legalization or the repeal of federal pot prohibition.

If Clinton’s drug policies can be said to be a continuation of Obama’s, Trump’s drug policies are more similar to a return to Nixon’s.

Phillip Smith is editor of the AlterNet Drug Reporter and author of the Drug War Chronicle.

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Trump argued that marijuana legalization should be decided on a state-by-state basis, without being more specific.

stock-photo-24602271-marijuana-leaf-with-stipe-in-black-background

 

By Jonathan Berr MoneyWatch November 11, 2016, 5:30 AM

Will Team Trump bust the marijuana business?

Supporters of the marijuana industry should be celebrating this week’s passage of eight state ballot measures to permit its use by adults. That promises to triple the industry’s size in coming years. 

But harshing their buzz are several key allies of President-elect Donald Trump, such as his running mate Mike Pence, who are skeptical about the benefits of marijuana legalization.

Not surprisingly, many in the cannabis industry had expected Democrat Hillary Clinton to cruise to victory and were stunned when it didn’t happen. Now, they’re awaiting signals of how Trump will approach cannabis, even as the industry is set to expand significantly.

“If Hillary Clinton had won, this would have been the grand slam that everyone in the industry had been hoping and praying for for years,” said Chris Walsh, editorial director of Marijuana Business Daily. “With Trump coming in, no one knows what’s going to happen. There are a lot of fears that he might crack down on the industry.”

Recreational marijuana measures pass in four states

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Recreational marijuana measures pass in four states

During the campaign, Trump argued that marijuana legalization should be decided on a state-by-state basis, without being more specific. But in addition to the vice president-elect, some of Trump’s closest advisers, such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, are no “friends of marijuana reform,” according to the Drug Policy Alliance.

Lawmakers in Indiana failed to reach an agreement on a medical marijuana bill during their 2016 session, and according to the Marijuana Policy Project, the state has among the most draconian cannabis laws in the country.

In New Jersey, Christie signed a law allowing medical use of pot last year, but activists have criticized it for being overly restrictive. The governor is adamantly opposed to allowing recreational pot use. Giuliani reportedly has argued that marijuana is a gateway drug that could lead to abuse of more harmful substances like heroin, a view that many experts dispute.

Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, didn’t respond to a request seeking comment.

Voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada agreed to allow recreational use of marijuana, doubling the states where that use is allowed. Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota joined the more than two dozen that allows medical cannabis use. According to Marijuana Business Daily, sales of legal marijuana in the states that just legalized it may reach as high as $8 billion over the next five years, compared with $4.5 billion for the entire industry in the U.S. currently. 

How Calif. vote for recreational pot could change national debate

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How Calif. vote for recreational pot could change national debate

“I don’t think we are going to move federal legalization along at the same speed that a Democratic administration would,” said Nick Kovacevich, the CEO of Kush Bottles (KSHB), which provides child-proof packaging to the cannabis industry. “But that’s OK in my opinion because we got the states on board.”

It would be difficult for the Trump administration to get rid of legal marijuana given the windfall the states have earned in tax revenue, according to Kovacevich.

The industry also faces some unique challenges. Since marijuana is technically illegal under federal law, businesses that produce it can’t take common corporate tax dedications, such as the cost of equipment and advertising. As a result, they have heavy tax burdens that hurt profitability.

Indeed, two of the industry’s biggest operators, Colorado-based LivWell Enlightened Health and California’s Harborside Health Center, are facing tax issues. LivWell is being audited by the IRS, and Harborside is challenging an IRS audit in tax court. Some tax experts think the IRS is targeting the industry. An agency spokesperson declined to comment.

But as the marijuana industry grows, so do questions about its potential harm. A recent report by  CBSN, a sister network to CBSNews.com, noted that some supporters of legalization are concerned that the industry may grow too dependent on heavy users and kids. Marijuana advocates argue that it causes far fewer health problems than tobacco and alcohol.

Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at New York University who advocates less strict marijuana laws, told CBSN: “We’re lurching from prohibition to the most wide-open kind of legalization. Probably a bad idea.”

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