Sean Spicer: There's a difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana
— Daniella Diaz (@DaniellaMicaela) February 23, 2017
Today in a press conference, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that the Department of Justice will "take action" against states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Those states are Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska, Nevada, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, and Washington D.C. That's 63 million Americans (one in five) who live states where adults can legally use marijuana for fun.
Meanwhile, a "Quinnipiac poll released earlier today found 71% of U.S. voters — including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, independents, and all age groups — are opposed to the government enforcing federal prohibition laws in states where marijuana is legal for medical or adult use," reports the Marijuana Policy Project.
When Trump was campaigning for president, he said he would not interfere with the way that states dealt with the legality of pot. But then he appointed marijuana foe Jeff Sessions as attorney general. (When Sessions was a U.S. Attorney in Alabama, he said he thought the Ku Klux Klan "were OK until I found out they smoked pot.” Sessions also said last year that “good people don't smoke marijuana.”) It looks likes Sessions is calling the shots now.
Ironically, in the same press conference, Spicer told reporters “We are a states’ rights party." But he was talking about the trashing of federal guidance on transgender students' right to pee, not letting states decide what to do about pot prohibition.
Spicer repeatedly linked the use of marijuana to the nationwide opioid abuse epidemic, suggesting without offering proof that marijuana is a gateway drug to more serious substances.
Earlier in the briefing, Spicer touted the president and the GOP's commitment to deferring to the states over the federal government on controversial issues.
“We are a states’ rights party," he said while discussing a reversal of Obama-era guidance on transgender student bathroom use.
Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, issued the following statement after Spicer's press conference:
“The vast majority of Americans agree that the federal government has no business interfering in state marijuana laws. This administration is claiming that it values states’ rights, so we hope they will respect the rights of states to determine their own marijuana policies. 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.
“Mr. Spicer acknowledged that the Justice Department is currently prohibited from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. It is critical that Congress once again includes that provision in the next budget, and we are hopeful that they will also adopt a provision that extends that principle to all state marijuana laws.”