Though the number of states decriminalizing marijuana in some form or another keeps growing, the federal government, including President Donald Trump, is leaving its options wide open for whatever action they may decide to take.
On May 5, Trump signed the spending bill that will keep the government running until the end of September. Part of the bill included an amendment known as the Rohrabacher – Blumenauer Amendment which banned the U.S. Department of Justice from using federal funds to go after medial marijuana businesses in states where it is legalized.
With the overzealous Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, the amendment on the spending bill was a good thing to have considering he believes marijuana, in any form, is the devil.
‘Good people don’t smoke marijuana.’
Though Trump has said very little about marijuana laws, he did provide a look into where he stands in his signing statement. The American Presidency Project’s website explains what a signing statement is.
‘A “Signing Statement” is a written comment issued by a President at the time of signing legislation. Often signing statements merely comment on the bill signed, saying that it is good legislation or meets some pressing needs. The more controversial statements involve claims by presidents that they believe some part of the legislation infringes on the constitutional powers of the presidency, and, therefore, they intend to ignore it or to implement it only in ways they believe is constitutional.’
No, Trump did not use his signing statement as a means of congratulating Congress on getting the spending bill done or describing the need for the spending bill to be accomplished. He used it to object to the fact that the legislative branch put a restriction on the federal government.
‘Division B, section 537 provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories. I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’
It was a very ambiguous way of saying, “You can’t tell me what to do.” However, it does not mean he’s coming to raid medical marijuana dispensaries any time soon. The founder of Marijuana Majority explained his take on the statement to Business Insider.
‘[M]y read is it’s basically saying they reserve the right to do whatever they want and enforce prohibition regardless of the statutory prohibition on doing so.’
However, during Trump’s campaign days, he backed the use of medical marijuana. The deputy director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Michael Collins, called on the government to provide a clear stance on marijuana laws.
‘The uncertainty is deeply disconcerting for patients and providers, and we urge the Administration to clarify their intentions immediately.’
When the White House was questioned on Trump’s statement, they stated it was just routine. According to Bloomberg, however, Bipartisan Policy Center senior policy analyst Tim Shaw has stated the president must enforce the spending bill despite his signing statement.
‘Part of the argument here in this signing statement is that he has the constitutional requirement to execute the law. But this is one of those laws, and Congress has the ultimate authority over funds getting spent.’
What can one take away from the signing statement? It honestly sounds like a child telling their parent, “Fine. I’ll do your chores, but I’m not happy about it, and I reserve the right to stop doing them at any time.” Furthermore, it’s been reported that Attorney General Sessions has indicated that going after marijuana in legalized states is not a priority for him. With so many more important issues facing the president and the Department of Justice, the resources to crack down on marijuana in legal states just aren’t there. However, you don’t tell President Trump what he can and cannot do. He does what he wants, and he wants to make sure no one forgets that.
Featured image by Brian Blanco/Getty Images.