Hours after a Quinnipac University poll found that 71 percent of U.S. growers believe the government should not enforce federal laws in states that have passed recreational cannabis laws, the White House announced a crackdown on the adult-use marijuana industry.
“I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer at Thursday’s press briefing. “I believe that [the Department of Justice is] going to continue to enforce the laws on the books with respect to recreational marijuana.”
Spicer cited the opioid crisis as reason for the President’s new tougher stance, saying “I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing that we should be doing is encouraging people,” Spicer said to a room full of reporters.
However, a recent study found the opposite: States that have legalized cannabis have lower rates of opioid abuse.
When Spicer was pressed for clarification if he did mean “greater enforcement,” he doubled down and said the DOJ is “going to continue to enforce the laws on the books with respect to recreational marijuana.” He indicated that law enforcement officials would not be targeting medical marijuana businesses.
Cannabis Business Times reached out to the DOJ for further comment and clarification. The department declined to comment. The cannabis industry, however was quick to react to the shocking news.
Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), said in a statement that “It is hard to imagine why anyone would want marijuana to be produced and sold by cartels and criminals rather than tightly regulated, taxpaying businesses.”
“Mr. Spicer says there is a difference between medical and recreational marijuana, but the benefits of and need for regulation apply equally to both,” Tvert added.
Mark Malone, the executive director at the Cannabis Business Alliance, was also extremely critical of the policy change, saying “Going after the legal marijuana industry would be a direct affront to the overwhelming numbers of Americans who have voted time after time to approve legal cannabis. It would also be an affront to the Cole Memo and a misuse of energy and taxpayer funds.”
Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace, a vocal supporter of the cannabis industry in Pueblo and Colorado, also said that local voters had an opportunity to revisit cannabis legalization in their community this past November and that support grew by six percentage points. He added that cannabis tax revenues were a boon to local initiatives.
“College scholarships, parks funding, impact studies, jailhouse improvements, veteran sponsorships, addiction treatment, homeless programming and school drug prevention programs have all been made possible here because of legalization. We know the rest of America agrees, let states decide for themselves.”
Source: Cannabis Business Times