Trump proposes to delete rule regarding state medical cannabis protections

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

President Donald Trump has never been overly vocal of his support for legal cannabis and it seems that he is doing whatever it takes to halt the industry’s progression. A recently published Marijuana Moment article revealed that Trump wants to eliminate an existing policy that was initially introduced by Congress to safeguard the interests of cannabis-friendly states.

Included in Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget plan, the proposal would tear down protections that Congress tried to put in place for states that have legalized the plant for medical purposes. This means that industry participants – e.g. dispensary owners and suppliers – could face federal interference for their involvement in the U.S. legal weed market.

The medical [cannabis] protection rider in current law is bracketed out for deletion in Trump’s new proposal,” confirmed cannabis journalist Tom Angell in a Tweet.

Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget proposal will impact medical cannabis market

An existing rider – renewed annually since 2014 – that says the Justice Department cannot use funding to stop states or territories “from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical [cannabis]” is expected to be scrapped by Trump. Based on the details of his proposal, states will no longer have the freedom to develop their own cannabis policies. Depriving states of the option to enact their own policies means that there could be negative repercussions for cannabis sale and possession. 

On June 27, 2019, the State Cannabis Commerce Act was introduced by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) to shield state cannabis programs from federal interference. The bill, which would have permitted interstate cannabis commerce between states, gave business owners hope that they’d be able to run their companies without being targeted for their involvement in the nascent cannabis industry. Unfortunately, that glimmer of hope has gone out the window with Trump’s fiscal 2021 plans, which are budgeted at $4.8 trillion. 

Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget proposal includes funding for FDA regulation

Federal cannabis legalization is supported by lawmakers like Andrew Yang, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Tulsi Gabbard. Trump, on the other hand, seems to be sending mixed signals about his views on the subject of cannabis reform. 

Back in 1990, Trump declared that the U.S. was “losing badly the war on drugs” and would therefore “have to legalize drugs to win that war.” He continued to show support for legal cannabis in 2015; when he was a candidate for president. It was at this time that Trump told the people of America that “medical should happen”. Although he stressed that recreational cannabis legalization should be dealt with by lawmakers in 2018, Trump also admitted that he would “probably end up supporting” a bill for federal-level cannabis reform. 

However, the fact that Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget proposal strips weed-friendly states of their rights to freely adopt their own policies suggests that he may not be so pro-pot after all. On the other hand, he has voiced his support for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate cannabis products; his proposal includes funding for the “regulation of cannabis and cannabis derivatives” by the FDA.

“The FDA recognizes the potential opportunities that cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds may offer, and acknowledges the significant interest in these possibilities,” said the Agency. “The FDA is committed to protecting the public health and improving regulatory pathways for the lawful marketing of cannabis and cannabis-derived products within the agency’s jurisdiction.”

In addition to FDA regulation, Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget proposal will restrict Washington, D.C.’s rights from spending local tax dollars to legalize cannabis retail sales. You can find out more here