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.