“I’m dubious about marijuana. I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana sold at every corner grocery store.” This quote is from President Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions when discussing the future of the federal government’s involvement with marijuana.
When coupled with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comments about “greater enforcement” of federal drug laws, some are now worried that states who have legalized marijuana may face repercussions from the federal government.
Under current federal law, marijuana remains as a banned substance. However, an Obama-era rule, known as the Cole Memo, effectively ended federal enforcement of minor marijuana infractions in states that had legalized the drugs use. In effect, this allowed users and sellers of the drug to legally operate in their states without interference from the federal government.
The administration’s current statements do not coincide with earlier statements made by Sessions who said that marijuana enforcement would not be a priority for the Trump administration during his confirmation hearing in the Senate.
It seems to me that another major conflict is arising on the issue of state rights versus the laws of the federal government.
As it legally stands, when a person buys or sells marijuana in a state where it has been legalized, they are still breaking a federal law and could be arrested. With 20 percent of the United States’ population living where recreational marijuana is legalized, it is time for Congress to start looking at ways to update current federal statutes governing marijuana.
The question is, when a state declares something to be legal, in opposition to the position of the federal government, which side should be able to have the final decision? It must be made by one or the other. There is no place for having confusing laws that contradict each other at the state versus federal level.