Donald Trump’s press secretary: Medical marijuana is OK, recreational weed is very bad


For proponents of Florida’s budding medical marijuana industry, President Donald Trump’s position on cannabis has been a mystery. At a press briefing on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer offered some insight into how the new administration views weed.

“There’s two distinct issues here: medical marijuana and recreational marijuana,” Spicer said. “I’ve said before that the president understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them.”

Amendment 2 won in a landslide in the Nov. 8 election, and the medical marijuana measure did surprisingly well in rural, white counties where Trump cleaned up. But Trump has stopped far short of embracing weed. Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are noted drug warriors, and Spicer on Thursday compared recreational cannabis to opioids, even though many medical experts say there’s really no comparison.

While such red states as Arizona, Arkansas, Florida and Kentucky have approved medical marijuana, recreational marijuana is mostly confined to such blue states as California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada and the District of Columbia, all of which Trump lost. (Alaska is the rare red state with legal recreational weed.)

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, but the Obama administration declined to pursue pot producers and purveyors who operated in accordance with state legalization programs.

Asked by a reporter if the Trump administration would arrest sellers of recreational weed in states that allow it, Spicer said, “I think that’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it.”

For pro-pot activists reveling in a dramatic shift of attitudes toward reefer, Trump’s position seems to be a setback.

“It looks like the first shoe is dropping as expected,” Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance told the Los Angeles Times. “Trump was never all that reassuring on the issue of marijuana legalization.”

UPDATE: Chris Walsh, editorial director of trade publication Marijuana Business Daily, offers this analysis:

“It’s very difficult to parse through Spicer’s language, as his comments were very vague. Still, I think many in the industry have been lulled into a false sense of security. Trump is not afraid to ruffle feathers or go against public opinion, and the (recreational marijuana) industry should be on high alert.”

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