Trump Proposes Deleting Policy That Shields State Medical Marijuana Programs in His 2021 Budget

In his fiscal year 2021 proposed budget plan, President Trump has stricken a policy that has been in place since 2014 to protect state medical marijuana programs from federal interference.

President Donald Trump has requested that a policy to protect states’ rights on medical marijuana policy from federal interference be stricken from his fiscal year 2021 proposed budget plan.

Marijuana Moment first reported on the proposed deletion of the cannabis protection rider on Feb. 10, the same day the Department of Justice proposed spending budget was released.

According to the report, cannabis is mentioned in several other places in Trump’s new budget proposal for next year including another long-standing rider that blocks the District of Columbia from using local tax dollars to legalize cannabis sales.

Since 2014, state medical programs have been protected from federal interference under a Department of Justice spending rider, signed first by President Barack Obama. Each year the cannabis protection rider has been renewed in some form by Congress through annual spending bills and then passed on to the desk of the president to be signed off on.

The medical marijuana rider stipulates that the Justice Department cannot use its funds to prevent states or territories “from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

It is not clear if the deletion is meant as a precursor for federal agencies to go after state medical marijuana programs or not. Back in December, Trump singled out the medical marijuana protection rider in a vague statement attached to a spending bill.

“Division B, section 531 of the Act provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds made available under this Act to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories,” Trump wrote in a signed statement. “My Administration will treat this provision consistent with the President’s constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.”

Tom Angell, the editor of Marijuana Moment, reported at the time, “By calling out the medical marijuana rider, Trump is making clear that his administration believes it can broadly enforce federal drug laws against people complying with state medical marijuana laws even though Congress told him not to.”

This marks the third time Trump has said in a statement that his administration is not obligated to abide by the medical cannabis provision. The president included similar language last year when signing off on the appropriations bill as well as in 2017.

While the last two budgets from Trump omitted the medical cannabis protections language, Trump’s administration is not the first to speak out in opposition to the medical marijuana protection rider. President Obama also asked for the policy to be removed.

However, Congress has consistently ignored those requests and renewed the protections in spending bills.

Trump marijuana budget

Trump’s Stance on Marijuana

The deletion of the state medical marijuana protection from the 2021 proposed budget along with the recent calling out of the medical marijuana rider has some wondering if Trump is going back on his commitment to allow states the freedom to make their own medical marijuana laws.

In Sept. 2019, Trump commented that his administration was continuing to allow states to make the decision on marijuana. Back in 2015, while Trump was campaigning for his presidency, he remarked that marijuana legalization should be a “state-by-state” issue.

Then in June 2018, the president voiced his support for bipartisan legislation sponsored by U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) that would protect states who have created marijuana regulatory systems from federal intervention.

Find out more about Trump’s history on marijuana policy, as well as all other presidential candidates, through our 2020 Presidential Candidates on Marijuana: The Ultimate Guide.

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