The White House’s controversial decision to rescind federal protections barring schools from discriminating against transgender students was a matter of states’ rights. However, when it comes to states that have legalized recreational marijuana, the federal government wants to crack down on them, regardless of states’ rights.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer explained during a press conference that President Trump sees the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana as two distinct issues, reports CNN. He linked marijuana use with the widespread abuse of painkillers.
Marijuana Users Compared to Opioid Addicts
He went on to say, “there’s a big difference between [medical marijuana] and recreational marijuana and I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people. There’s still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.” When asked if the federal government will take action around recreational marijuana, Spencer said, “I do believe you will see greater enforcement of it.”
This is a reversal from the Obama administration’s stance, which laid out in an official memo that the federal government wouldn’t interfere in states where the nonmedical use of marijuana is allowed, according to CNN. Under President Obama’s administration, the Justice Department adhered to a guidance urging federal prosecutors to refrain from targeting and cracking down on marijuana use in states where it’s legal. Recreational marijuana was approved in seven states and Washington, D.C., which continues to ban sales. Some 28 states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. However, federal drug laws still list marijuana as an illegal substance. Marijuana is classified as Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, which means it is a drug on par with heroin, acid (LSD), and ecstasy.
Increasing Incarceration of Black Men
A federal crackdown on marijuana use led by the DOJs Jeff Sessions may have a significant impact on black communities, namely increasing the incarceration of black men. Despite equal usage rates, African Americans are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession of marijuana. African Americans are 62% of drug offenders sent to state prisons. Black men are sent to federal prison on drug charges at a rate of 57 times greater than white men, according to the Human Rights Watch, reports the Huffington Post. Marijuana arrests, prosecutions, and convictions have caused direct harm by affecting eligibility for housing and student financial aid, employment opportunities, child custody determinations, and immigration status.
A federal crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana is in direct opposition to the views of many Americans. A new survey from Quinnipiac University shows a majority of American voters—71%—want the federal government to respect state marijuana laws. Republicans, Democrats, Independents and every age group polled agreed: “Feds should not enforce prohibition in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana.”