Allow States to Legalize Marijuana

Current Status: Faltering

As of

"In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state."

- Trump speech in Reno, NV, October 2016

Allowing states to legalize recreational cannabis is a reversal from earlier positions he's expressed.  For example, Trump said at the CPAC conference in June 2016: "I say it's bad. Medical marijuana is another thing, but I think it's bad, and I feel strongly about it."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an outspoken opponent of marijuana legalization, spoke openly about and made moves toward prosecuting medical marijuana operations at the state level. In January 2018, Sessions rescinded Obama-era guidance that discouraged Federal interference in states that legalized cannabis. Afterwards, Trump's press secretary, Sarah Sanders, seemed to indicate that Trump’s position had changed, saying “Whether it’s marijuana or whether it’s immigration, the president strongly believes that we should enforce federal law.”

While many feared this was a prelude to Federal intervention in state-level cannabis policies, the intervention never materialized. At the close of Trump's first term all that can be said for certain is that Trump's relationship with cannabis policy is uneven, often more focused on short term political effects such as on immigration or on voter turnout than in presenting any coherent narrative.


See also: Crime, Domestic Affairs