The president has sent mixed signals about his position on marijuana. During his campaign for president in 2015, Donald Trump acknowledged the therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana but opposed the legalization of adult use cannabis. “I think it’s bad,” he said after being asked for his thoughts on Colorado legalizing recreational marijuana, “and I feel strongly about that.”
Later in his campaign, however, he modified his position by stating that while he didn’t support recreational marijuana, he believed states should be allowed to legalize marijuana without federal interference. He continued to express support for the legalization of medical marijuana.
So far in his term, Trump has remained unclear in his intentions regarding cannabis reform. In December 2018, he did sign the 2018 Farm Bill, which included provisions to legalize hemp. He also said he would “probably” support the STATES Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Cory Gardner (R) of Colorado and Elizabeth Warren (D) of Massachusetts, that would allow states to write their own marijuana policies.
Despite Trump’s support of hemp and suggested federalist approach to marijuana legalization, some in the industry remain skeptical considering he picked Jeff Sessions, a staunch marijuana opponent, as his first attorney general. Additionally, interviews and documents obtained by BuzzFeed News last year revealed the Trump Administration had been secretly coordinating a government-wide effort to portray marijuana legalization in a negative light.
Most recently, in signing a spending bill on February 15, 2019, Trump singled out an included provision that prevents the Justice Department from using funds to interfere with medical marijuana, stating that he “will treat this provision consistent with the President’s constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.” In short, Trump was making it clear that he reserves the right to ignore the cannabis provision and interfere with state-legal marijuana. While that language could elicit concern, it’s important to note that he made a similar comment in May 2017 when signing that fiscal year’s appropriations bill into law, and yet no raids against state-legal medical marijuana patients or providers followed.
Multiple Republican lawmakers contend that Trump remains supportive of states making their own decisions about marijuana. Dana Rohrabacher, the former Representative from California, claims members within the Trump Administration reassured him they would take up federal cannabis reform following the midterm elections, but no actions have been made yet.