Despite Overwhelming Voter Approval, Trump Proposes Cutting Federal Protections for State Cannabis Markets

By Melissa Hutsell


Despite a decades-long record of support for state medical cannabis (MMJ) laws, Trump proposed cutting an amendment in his spending bill that would protect them.

Trump’s Record on Cannabis

Though he claims he’s never smoked it, Trump has a 30-year record of supporting pro-cannabis policies— or at least, a state’s right to regulate its own industry. 

In April 1990, Trump told a crowd at the Miami Herald’s Company of the Year Awards that he believes America’s drug enforcement efforts were a joke. “We’re losing badly the War on Drugs,” he said. “You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profit away from these drug czars,“ reports The Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 



He did not blatantly support legalization during his presidential campaign, however, Trump on multiple occasions stated his commitment to honoring state’s rights when it comes to MMJ laws.  

According to PolitiFact, he pledged his support for it on at least three different occasions. The first was at a rally in Sparks, Nevada in 2015. There, he told the crowd:

“The marijuana thing is such a big thing. I think medical should happen—right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states. It should be a state situation…but I believe that the legalization of marijuana–other than for medical because I think medical, you know I know people that are very, very sick and for whatever reason the marijuana really helps them…but in terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state.”

Trump again voiced his support, particularly for medical cannabis, in radio and TV interviews in 2016 and 2017. 

Journalist Brandon Rittiman asks Trump about the Colorado cannabis market, July 2016.

Backing Tracking on a Decades-Long Stance

In 2017, Trump signed a spending bill that included the Rohrabacher—Blumenauer Amendment. The amendment prevents the Department of Justice (DOJ) from spending federal funds to interfer with state MMJ programs. 

In a statement on the topic—the first while in office, reports Business Insider—Trump acknowledged the amendment, but said he plans to, “[…] treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Many believed that statement showed his commitment to protecting state MMJ programs was swaying. 

This February, the Trump Administration released its proposed 2021 budget plan. The amendment was absent. 

But, as Marijuana Moment reports, this isn’t the first time that’s happened. The administration omitted it for the past two years, “and President Obama similarly asked for the policy to be removed. In all cases, Congress has ignored those requests and renewed the protections in spending bills.”

Congress will, one again, ignore Trump’s request and support the amendment.

It’s an Election Year, After all

Nearly two-thirds of voters support legalization. And many other 2020 presidential candidates do too.  

Most democratic candidates favor federal legalization. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are perhaps the loudest in their support. But, philanthropist Tom Steyer, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg back legalization as well. Though their approaches are different, each of their plans include criminal justice reform, like record expungement.

Sanders’ plan is the most comprehensive. In it, he pledges to de-classify cannabis as a controlled substance within his first 100 days in office. If elected, he also said he will appoint an attorney general and officials from the DEA and HHS to aggressively work to end the drug war.

Klobuchar, however, seems to support a more state-centric approach. She has stated that she supports legalization, and believes each state should be allowed to decide its own policy. Former Vice President, Joe Biden, on the other hand, supports federal decriminalization, and efforts that include rescheduling cannabis to a schedule II substance.

Stay tuned to the Emerald for more coverage on the presidential election, and current cannabis policies. In the meantime, be sure to get out and vote for your favorite candidate!

Emerald contributor since February 2016


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