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Trump Administration Spokesman: Expect “Greater Enforcement” of Federal Marijuana Laws

After weeks of speculation, the Trump Administration has finally given some indication of its position regarding the national movement towards cannabis legalization.

Although marijuana remains illegal under federal law, 28 states have legalized marijuana in some form. Meanwhile, eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the adult, recreational use of cannabis.

Speaking at briefing on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that while that the enforcement of federal marijuana laws is “a question for the Department of Justice,” he added that “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it.”

Spicer said there were two distinct issues: medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.

“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,” he added.

However, he continued, “there’s a big difference between that 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 that we should be doing is encouraging people. There is still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.”

Organizations advocating marijuana legalization were quick to respond to Spicer’s comments.

“The vast majority of Americans agree that the federal government has no business interfering in state marijuana laws,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) in a statement.

“This administration is claiming that it values states’ rights, so we hope they will respect the rights of states to determine their own marijuana policies. It is hard to imagine why anyone would want marijuana to be produced and sold by cartels and criminals rather than tightly regulated, taxpaying businesses. Mr. Spicer says there is a difference between medical and recreational marijuana, but the benefits of and need for regulation apply equally to both.”

The MPP press release also included a link to a Quinnipiac University poll released earlier on Thursday – that found 71 percent of those surveyed, including a majority of voters across the political spectrum, felt the government should not enforce federal laws “against marijuana in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana use.”

The executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, Aaron Smith, also responded to the comments from the White House.

“It would be a mistake for the Department of Justice to overthrow the will of the voters and state governments who have created carefully regulated adult-use marijuana programs,” he said in a statement.  “It would represent a rejection of the values of economic growth, limited government, and respect for federalism that Republicans claim to embrace.”