Future of Marijuana Legalization Under Trump
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Future of Marijuana Legalization Under Trump
Posted by CN Staff on November 09, 2016 at 13:03:33 PT
By Christopher Ingraham
Source: Washington Post
USA -- Americans wake up this morning to find a drug policy landscape radically altered from yesterday. California, Massachusetts and Nevada have legalized recreational marijuana, while voters in a handful of Southern and deeply conservative states embraced medical marijuana with open arms.Regardless of how a still-contested legalization vote turns out in Maine, more than 1 in 5 Americans now live in states where the recreational use of marijuana is, or soon will be, legal.
“This is the most momentous Election Day in history for the movement to end marijuana prohibition,” Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project, a group that supported a number of the legalization initiatives, said in a statement. “The end of prohibition is near, and it would be a mistake for the federal government to continue waging war on its own nonviolent citizens. How do you ask a DEA agent to be the last man to enforce a mistake?”But jubilation over marijuana's ballot wins was quickly tempered by the uncertain future marijuana faces under a Trump Justice Department. “The prospect of Donald Trump as our next president concerns me deeply,” Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. “His most likely appointees to senior law enforcement positions — Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie — are no friends of marijuana reform, nor is his vice president.”Regardless of what happens at the state level, marijuana remains illegal for all uses under federal law. The Obama administration has officially adopted a policy of noninterference with state marijuana laws, as outlined in a 2013 memo by then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole.In the Cole memo, the Justice Department acknowledged the reality that most drug enforcement is carried out by state and local — not federal — authorities. The department's position has been that as long as state legalization efforts didn't threaten certain federal priorities — like keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors, preventing driving while under the influence of drugs and keeping marijuana grow operations out of federal lands — it would exercise “prosecutorial discretion” and direct its limited law enforcement resources to other drug priorities, such as dealing with the opiate epidemic.John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who studies marijuana policy, said this memo was instrumental in allowing Colorado and Washington to set up their recreational marijuana markets. “A lot of people forget that [recreational marijuana markets in] Colorado and Washington were pretty much on hold until the governors there received guidance from the Department of Justice,” Hudak said in an interview.The Drug Policy Alliance's Nadelmann agrees. “I don't think we're going to have quite the same green light coming out of the new administration,” he said in a conference call with reporters.Reversing the Obama administration's hands-off approach to marijuana would be as simple as withdrawing the Cole memo, Hudak says. And if that were to happen, it's unclear what the effect would be both in states that already have recreational marijuana and in places where state governments are setting up marijuana markets after this year's ballot measures.“It could have a chilling effect on the willingness of states to move forward with the creation of these systems,” Hudak said. “It could also have a pretty chilling effect on investment in marijuana businesses.”But some congressional observers are skeptical that there will be any appetite in a new Trump administration for quashing marijuana reform. "Go against millions of supporters, against states' rights, against where the public is?" said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D.-Ore.) in an interview. "It would be the beginning of tremendous problems for the Trump administration that they don't need."Blumenauer remains optimistic that Congress will tackle a number of issues that have been vexing marijuana businesses in recent years, including their lack of access to the federal banking system and their inability to take the same tax breaks that other businesses are entitled to."The number of men and women in Congress who are now going to represent state legal businesses [will see] a quantum increase" as a result of the legalization of recreational marijuana in California, and the creation of a medical market in Florida, Blumenauer said.Opponents of legalization, meanwhile, are regrouping and considering how to address the new reality they face in the coming months and years. Smart Approaches to Marijuana, the nation's leading anti-legalization group, announced yesterday an initiative aimed at reform and oversight of the existing marijuana industry.The group's founder and executive director, Kevin Sabet, said in an email that this in no way represents a shift away from trying to stop legalization from happening. “We still plan to stop legalization,” he said, pointing to the group's successful effort to oppose the marijuana legalization measure in Arizona as a blueprint.“I am feeling (strangely, maybe) optimistic,” Sabet added. “We won in Arizona. The overarching lesson was that if we could raise enough money early, we can win. Arizona was the only state where we were toe to toe with the 'yes' side, and it's the only state we started early in.”On marijuana, as on so many issues, Trump is something of a wild card. He has surrounded himself with tough law-and-order advisers, including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).Trump's own statements don't offer much clarity on the topic. He has been vociferous about the negative effects of legalization but also said that recreational and medical marijuana should be treated at the state level.Beau Kilmer, a drug policy expert at the nonprofit Rand Corp., said it's unlikely that any sort of changes to marijuana law will be a priority for incoming Trump administration officials. “In the grand scheme of top issues the new administration is going to be dealing with, marijuana is not going to be a top priority,” Kilmer said in an interview.With 65 million people living in states that have given the green light to marijuana legalization, any federal crackdown “could have significant political costs associated with it,” Kilmer said. And the burgeoning marijuana industry is likely to step up its lobbying efforts at the state and local levels.Hudak agrees that any effort to stop state-level legalization will depend on lawmakers' appetite for dealing with the potential political fallout from the move.“This is a Congress that is about to repeal the Affordable Care Act,” Hudak said. “I think a Congress and an administration that are willing to do that are not going to worry about the optics of quashing the marijuana industry.” Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center. Source: Washington Post (DC)Author: Christopher IngrahamPublished: November 9, 2016Copyright: 2016 Washington Post CompanyContact: letters Website: URL: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on November 10, 2016 at 15:53:01 PT
I truly can't believe he won. Hillary would have done her job. That's all but that is important to me. More protests tonight across the USA in the cities!
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on November 10, 2016 at 08:15:03 PT
I overheard Lou Dobbs... is who I think it was..
saying Trump is "Anti-establishment". What? Trump, to me, looks and sounds like he IS the very essence of "The establishment", as we know it.Aaargh.Anti-establishment? I'll believe that when he starts working to close all the loopholes that allow the super wealthy to skip out on their taxes.
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on November 10, 2016 at 08:04:27 PT
Looks like Jo Jo will still have to leave his home in Tuscon, Arizona for some California grass.That's so sad. It's a marvel of ignorance and entrenched stupidity.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on November 10, 2016 at 06:35:26 PT
Sam Adams
I can't get over how sick I feel after this happened. Protests are happening everywhere. Trump is everything I dislike about capitalism. This isn't going to be pretty. 
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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on November 10, 2016 at 06:01:28 PT
FOM, yes of course I'm not happy that we'll be seeing a lot more of the orange-flavored ignorant bigot. However I don't think we should despair just yet. Who knows what will happen. I see many potential silver linings to this cloud.Maybe this will finally energize progressives in this country. Why didn't the democrats push for electoral reform after this happened in 2000? Why isn't anyone calling for a transition to a parliamentary system like the rest of the world's actual democracies?  Maybe we'll see progress in those areas.People need to get back to the old ways of organizing together and standing up to the government.  Maybe Trump will help people understand that. The marijuana laws are falling because people refused to comply with the government's orders to not touch the cannabis plant. We need a lot more of that mentality in the USA if we're ever going to change.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on November 09, 2016 at 18:09:29 PT
Sam Adams
I wondered something trying to find a silver lining in this very depressing day for my husband and myself and over half the voting population since Clinton won the popular vote. Trump has at least one hotel in Las Vegas and he might see the money in having a portion of the building allowing marijuana in the future.
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on November 09, 2016 at 16:54:06 PT
speaking to the media
anyone else getting tired of Ethan Nadelmann's defeatist rhetoric? It's all over the news today, practically urging the Trump administration to shut us down.It's time for someone from one of the national trade associations to replace him as spokesperson for the cannabis community.The fact is that Trump said he would respect state marijuana laws while on the campaign trail this year.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on November 09, 2016 at 14:16:46 PT
Stop harming Yourself; end cannabis prohibition
“I am feeling (strangely, maybe) optimistic,” S" added. “We won in Arizona. The overarching lesson was that if we could raise enough money early, we can win. Arizona was the only state where we were toe to toe with the 'yes' side, and it's the only state we started early in.”-0-********If My favorite hockey team played 9 games and won 1 game, I would not be optimistic.-The lesson is that cannabis prohibition sucks &&& the majority of voters are done with it.-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-Further, Perhaps of the 8 states which listened to cannabis prohibition rants and ignored them, most voters have seen the examples taking place in locations which already made the change and decided it works and it's ok... & that helped form their choice of vote...Now, with more states choosing cannabis, that will in turn make it even more appealing to future states which will surely be giving up cannabis prohibition.The majority of votes are a witness; the sky has stopped falling in in states which ended the harm.
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