You’re hot then you’re cold, you’re yes then you’re no… When it comes to Donald Trump’s stance on pot, Katy Perry sums it perfectly.
If you’re confused on where our new President-Elect stands on cannabis legalization, welcome to the party. Not dissimilar to his many platform issues, he’s been less than clear and/or consistent when it comes to his feelings and plans regarding marijuana. He’s been quoted as suggesting 100% legalization of all drugs, to a more conservative, medical–only approach. So which is it? Here’s a timeline of ‘Trumpisms’ in chronological order to give you a better understanding of his beliefs.
Trump’s Many Stances on Marijuana
- April 1990: Trump states that the United States should legalize drugs and use the money on public drug education. According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, "You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profit away from these drug czars."
- June 2015: Trump supports medical marijuana but firmly opposes recreational legalization. When asked about Colorado’s recreational cannabis legalization during the CPAC Conference in June 2015, Trump responded: "I say it's bad. Medical marijuana is another thing, but I think it's bad, and I feel strongly about it."
- October 2015: Trump notably softens his stance with a deflective, politically ambiguous response. According to the Washington Post, “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state".
- February 2016: Trump is put on the spot on The O’Reilly Factor and answers with his stance on marijuana use – recreational and medical, respectively, “…in some ways I think it's good and in other ways it's bad. I do want to see what the medical effects are. I have to see what the medical effects are and, by the way -- medical marijuana, medical? I'm in favor of it a hundred percent”.
Here’s the takeaway, while he was once for 100% legalization of all drugs, he’s more recently landed on favorable medical marijuana legalization and unfavorable recreational marijuana legalization – with the states handling legalization directly.
How His Potential Cabinet Picks May Have an Affect
But beyond just Trump’s stance on pot, we also have to consider the people of power he is/may be surrounding himself with. Mike Pence – Vice President Elect, as well as a handful of other well-known conservative names are all firmly against rescheduling or legalizing marijuana. So even though President-Elect Trump has pledged to respect existing medical marijuana legalization and state cannabis laws, there is valid precedence for concern. His potential advisors are clear in their opposition and unfortunately, have his ear and may soon be in positions of power.
It should not go unnoticed that Giuliani and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vehemently pushes for counter-reform movements. They have publicly favored longer sentences, fuller prisons, and militarized policing – even for low-level drug arrests.
Indiana’s Governor, Mike Pence is no different. Even though polls found that 73% of Indiana voters support medical marijuana, Indiana maintains some of the toughest marijuana laws in the country where possession under 30 grams is punishable by up to six months in prison and fines up to $5,000. In addition, Pence has even actively worked against softening drug laws saying, "I think we need to focus on reducing crime, not reducing penalties".
What Does This Mean for the Industry?
While Trump’s cannabis stance is a wild card to say the least, his (likely) appointees to senior positions speak loud and clear – they oppose marijuana legalization. So what does this mean for you and your state? Let’s take a look at some possible scenarios.
- Marijuana Repeal: Pence, Giuliani, and/or Christie have their way and pushes for Trump to repeal/obstruct current state-by-state legalization laws. This means a mass shutdown of countless local businesses, loss in thousands of jobs, increased drug arrests with potentially more consequential sentencing.
- Marijuana Laws Respected: Trump stands by his latest stance, support medical marijuana and support state-by-state recreational legalization laws. This means respecting the now 28+ states offering some form of medical marijuana and the 7 states plus Washington D.C. offering full recreational legalization.
In truth, marijuana legalization was never a major aspect of Trump’s campaigning platform. He focused on immigration, terrorism, and job promises. So it wouldn’t make logical sense for Trump’s efforts to take a swift turn over to repealing all marijuana laws. It would go against his recent statements of respecting state-by-state laws, his pro-medical marijuana stance, and his promises for domestic job growth. Repealing legalized marijuana – medical and/or recreational – would be a huge blow to America’s many existing and upcoming job and business growth potential. It just doesn’t seem to be either a smart or imperative move for President-Elect Trump, but then again… we’ve been wrong when it comes to Trump before. Who would’ve guessed this rise, this election result, and these possible turnouts? Not us, not the mainstream media, and not even the pollsters.
It’s a ‘wait and see’ time right now but for the sake of those needing medical relief, statewide tax revenue boom, and new job opportunities, let’s hope that marijuana prohibition reform continues on its current trajectory. We can all do our part to continue moving forward and progressing towards a nation where marijuana is no longer illegal, regardless of what an uncertain Trump presidency may hold. Support your local cannabis businesses, reach out to your local leaders, and speak up in town hall meetings. Together, we can continue moving cannabis legalization forward making prohibition a thing of the past.
Photo Credit: Michael Vardon