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Weed Update: Sean Spicer comment sends marijuana industry into state of panic

The fast-talking, highly-caffeinated, and somewhat staccato speaking style of Press Secretary Sean Spicer has once again caused a state of panic and essentially just pissed people off!  In a press briefing yesterday, the gum-chewing White House spokesman announced that Donald Trump will likely use “greater enforcement” of existing federal laws to outlaw recreational marijuana. 

To many in the marijuana community, Spicer’s rather abrupt statement immediately conjured up images of DEA officers hitting the streets, knocking down doors, and arresting anyone in their path with even the faintest tinge of weed on their person.  After all, that’s what appears to be ICE agents are doing right now to both legal and illegal immigrants across the country.  

Trump’s ever-evolving view on marijuana, recreational or otherwise

It’s no surprise that the Spicer anti-pot statement seemingly contradicts earlier campaign promises made by then Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.  On the campaign trail, Trump often suggested that these decisions should be left up to the individual states.

But if Trump decides to go in the other direction, then the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) would be chiefly responsible for enforcing the anti-weed legislation that is currently on the books.  And the newly appointed, White-Southern-Republican-turned-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been a long-standing, vocal opponent of legalized marijuana in any form.


These mixed messages are why the weed industry has been waiting with bated breath since Election Day for a more decisive policy announcement from the Trump Administration.  Unfortunately, the cannabis industry is still as confused as it ever was, especially after Sean Spicer’s most recent comment.

Spicer’s credibility issues

On the one hand, Spicer claims that the federal government will begin to more aggressively enforce anti-pot legislation.  But when pressed by White House reporters, he immediately began walking back that statement.

"I think that's a question for the Department of Justice — I do believe that you'll see greater enforcement of it [marijuana].”
"There's a big difference between medical use…and recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice will be further looking into."
"There's still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature."

Spicer also mentioned a 2014 congressional ruling called the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment that specifically prohibits the DOJ from interfering in state-legalized medical marijuana practices.  In fact, the federal government was forced to drop a 2016 lawsuit against a medical marijuana dispensary in California thanks to the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment.

So, which is it, Spicer?  Will they, or won’t they?

Can the DOJ overrule individual state governments?

This most recent Spicer statement is just another example of the brash Press Secretary’s feeble attempts to appear uber-knowledgeable and unflinchingly certain.  The trouble is that he so often follows up these ridiculous comments- sometimes in the very same sentence – with additional language that either directly contradicts or infinitely confuses the original topic of discussion even further. 


Sean Spicer was initially talking about recreational marijuana.  Assuming that medical weed is off the table and acceptable in the eyes of the Trump Administration, why bring up the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment in the first place?  It only deals with medical marijuana.

The real question is:  Will the DOJ attempt to override the laws of individual state governments that have already legalized recreational cannabis?  And can we please get Sean Spicer to learn all the facts before making such panic-inducing statements on the podium?

Theoretically, federal laws always override those of the individual states.  However, according Business Insider, New York University public policy expert Mark Kleinman believes that doing so would create a “mess” and result in an “illegal market” reminiscent of the 1990s.  Yes, the DOJ could start cracking down on state-sanctioned dispensaries for recreational marijuana, but is this really the hill that the Trump Administration wants to die on?


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