A First Shot in the White House’s Possible War On Weed

As the Trump administration indicates increased enforcement of federal law, an industry shudders and local politicians prepare for a showdown.

In a move that did not surprise anyone who’s been paying attention, the Trump Administration has yet again issued conflicting statements—this time on cannabis, specifically on whether or not the government is gearing up to go after the quasi-legal recreational-cannabis community, now a multibillion-dollar industry nationwide.

Trump himself has flip-flopped on legalization since 1990. Back then he was in favor of fully legalizing the plant for medical and recreational use and funneling the resulting tax money into school systems. On the campaign trail, he first supported legalization, but as the campaign wore on, his stance became more conservative, especially on recreational use, noting “all the trouble” states like Colorado were having.

Cut to Thursday, when Sean “Spicy” Spicer dropped the biggest buzz-kill on the industry since Willie Nelson got audited. Spicer believes the new White House stance is—maybe—that the government is going to take a much tougher approach with the recreational-marijuana industry, since the stuff is still illegal on the federal level. I say maybe because just moments later, “Baghdad Sean” then stated that enforcement of the federal law would be up to the Department of Justice. Rolling papers sufficiently ruffled, the cannabis industry collectively freaked out over the weekend, with the Bloomberg Intelligence Global Cannabis Index reporting a 3.7 percent drop following Spicer’s press briefing.

The move would definitely go against public opinion. The latest Quinnipiac University poll found that 71 percent of voters think “the government should not enforce federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized medical or recreational use.”

In a statement on Thursday, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said that he was “deeply disappointed” to hear Spicer’s comments. “My office will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that the federal government does not undermine Washington’s successful, unified system for regulating recreational and medical marijuana,” he said. His words were matched by politicians on both sides of the aisle across the country.

For now, medical users are still protected under the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, passed in 2014, barring the Department of Justice, which oversees the Drug Enforcement Administration, from interfering with the implementation of states’ medical-cannabis laws. But this protection is weak and temporary, with the DEA already having pressed the issue (and lost) in a case against a medical grow-op in California. And while Spicer did distinguish between medicinal and recreational use, he also suggested a link between rising opioid addiction and the rising use of cannabis, which runs contrary to the opinions of doctors and addiction specialists across the country. In fact, last year, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found a 25 percent drop in opioid overdose deaths in states with medical-cannabis laws on the books.

The “wait and see” spell was broken for cannabis-concerned politicians, and the response was “all hands on deck” with the birth of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, a bipartisan political group created hours after the announcement, which received praise from groups like NORML, the Marijuana Policy Project, and the Drug Policy Alliance. While not stating any concrete plans for action, Oregon Democrat Rep. Earl Blumenauer stated, “Following the November election, federal laws are now out of step with 44 states. The time is now to come together and bring the federal government in line with the will of the American people.” If only we could get this kind of quick response out of our reps when it comes to clean water, police shootings, or a safe place to pee.

stashbox@seattleweekly.com

More in Eat Drink Toke

Photo by Conner Knotis 
                                Jerk Shack’s jerk chicken.
Bring on the Jerk

Finally, the Caribbean stakes a spot in Seattle thanks to Jerk Shack.

Dennis Peron. Illustration by James the Stanton
The Cannabis Community Mourns Activist Dennis Peron

The grandfather of medicinal marijuana was 72.

Touch Down in Kerala, India via Kirkland

It’s 30 minutes east of Seattle, but Kathakali boasts some of the best Indian food in the area.

Working Nine to High

Can you keep your day job and your cannabis?

Patrons get their pong on at Spin. Photo courtesy of Spin and Victoria Kovios
Spin Gives Ping Pong Hustlers a Home

Slicing up the obsessively slick new downtown bar.

Joli’s French Twist in Phinney Ridge

The new resturant brings a feminine streak to bistro-style dining.

Courtesy photo
A Pizza Bar With a Pedigree, Potential, and Plenty of Hiccups

Supreme in West Seattle serves up New York-style pie and apologies.

Illustration by James the Stanton
Corporate Sharks Smell Weed in the Water

As more states legalize cannabis, big players take a big step forward.

Is poké, like this from GoPoké, a fad or a new fixture. Only time will tell. Photo by Suzi Pratt
A Year of Fads and New Fixtures in Seattle Dining

Neither money nor reputation guaranteed success in this frenzied year of dining evolution.

Remembering the American Mother Goddess of Medicinal Cannabis

Joanna McKee changed the conversation about marijuana.

The Liquor Industry Make a Play for Legal Weed

The landscape of cannabis in North America is potentially about to experience a hostile takeover.

Chef Soma and Her Cult of Soba Are Back

Kamonegi in Fremont serves up the underappreciated noodles, along with esoteric takes on tempura and other Japanese-inspired delicacies.