In response to a question from a reporter at a Whitehouse press briefing on Thursday, Sean Spicer stated that he expects that states will be subject to greater enforcement of federal marijuana laws, especially in states where recreational marijuana is now legal. Spicer said:
“I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people. There is still a federal law that we need to abide by.”
Spicer is referring to a common, though scientifically disproven, belief that marijuana can be a “gateway drug,” eventually leading to addiction to other substances, such as opiates.
For a political party that claims to believe in less “big government” more power going back to the states, Spicer’s remarks about the federal government stepping up enforcement in states where recreational marijuana is legal is a step in the complete opposite direction, and comes off as a pretty hypocritical move for the Trump administration.
In response to Spicer’s remarks, the National Cannabis Industry Association issued a statement pointing out that current state programs are operating well and are very well regulated. They also addressed the idea that marijuana is a gateway drug, stating:
“Science has discredited the idea that marijuana serves as any kind of gateway drug, and the addiction and death rates associated with opioids simply do not occur in any way with cannabis.”
Coming in on the heels of Trump’s orders to remove federal protections on transgender bathrooms in schools, with Trump stating that the reasoning behind the order was to put the issue back in state hands, the idea that the federal government may intend to crack down harder on states that have chosen to legalize marijuana laws makes many people question where this administration’s priorities really lie.