While many had hoped that President Obama would push for legalizing marijuana or at least making some substantive changes to US drug laws during his presidency, that does not seem to have happened which means many are left to wonder what a Trump presidency will mean for marijuana users.
It’s easy to imagine the worst if one is predisposed to thinking Republicans are bad for the chance of drug reform but Mr. Trump is not a typical Republican so there we have to look a little deeper into what a Trump presidency will look like.
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Granted, Trump is hard to peg down on any issue as his views often change and sometimes contradict things he’s previously said but we’ll do our best.
In the past Mr. Trump has indicated that he would not make any major changes to drug laws. In 2015 he said, “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state. Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states. And of course you have Colorado. There’s a question as to how it’s all working out there, you know? That’s not going exactly trouble-free.”
Then again, in 1990 he called the drug war a joke and said drugs should be legalized in order to take the profit motive away from drug cartels yet while campaigning he said that legalization would be bad so his views certainly can evolve over time.
That said, even while campaigning and even while speaking to conservative groups, he seems to have held steady on medical marijuana. He’s noted problems with recreational use in Colorado (though not specifying what problems were occurring in Colorado) but hasn’t really wavered on medical marijuana.
So perhaps at a minimum, Trump might be inclined to allow medical marijuana use at the federal level assuming it was legal at the state level. In theory, that would still leave marijuana illegal for recreational use at the federal level but once you open the door to medical marijuana at the federal level it opens up enough cracks where it becomes almost pointless for the federal government to go after recreational marijuana in states where it is legal.
Though if former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is appointed as Attorney General that might make marijuana supporters a tad nervous as Mr. Giuliani has a reputation for being a zero tolerance politician and is just the sort of person who might make a futile effort to go after recreational marijuana while sidestepping medical marijuana.
Further complicating the matter is that Mr. Trump, while having been a proponent of state’s rights and medical marijuana, could have a change of heart and have his attorney general go after medical and recreational marijuana. Given how openly the marijuana industry has been allowed to operate in states that have legalized either recreational or medical marijuana, it would not be very difficult to slam a heavy hammer down with several massive raids and kill the industry virtually overnight.
If Mr. Trump were a typical politician or had deep ideological views it would be much easier to predict what would be the most likely result of a Trump presidency, however he is not a typical politician nor does he seem to have any ideological views that aren’t malleable.
Ultimately, much like immigration, tax reform, ObamaCare, and many other issues which Mr. Trump has campaigned hard on yet has outlined few specifics of what his actual plans are, we will have to wait for more information on what Mr. Trump’s presidency will mean to marijuana users in the United States.