Time to Admit It: Trump Opposes Cannabis Legalization
By Bruce Barcott ‘The Haymaker’ is Leafly Deputy Editor Bruce Barcott’s opinion column on cannabis politics and culture.
At a cannabis conference last week, I overheard someone say, “we still don’t know where Trump is on legalization.” This is a long-held belief in the cannabis industry. Leafly said as much about then-candidate Trump in 2016.
Here’s what happened. In Congress, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing Tuesday on three bills that would reduce restrictions on veterans’ access to medical cannabis. One bill would allow VA healthcare providers to write state-legal medical cannabis recommendations for veterans who qualify. (Federal law currently prohibits them from doing so.) A separate bill would direct the VA to conduct a clinical study on the risks and benefits of medical marijuana. A third would prevent the VA from stripping veterans of their hard-earned benefits just because they consume state-legal cannabis.
The Trump administration opposed all three. That not merely nonsensical. It’s cruel.
- On average, more than 20 military veterans die by suicide every day, often due to chronic pain, PTSD, or other service-related conditions. Many veterans now find relief from both opioids and chronic pain, and manage their PTSD, with the help of medical cannabis they must obtain outside the VA medical system. This week, President Trump opposed an effort to allow them that relief.
- Not too long ago, veterans could lose their lifelong military benefits if a drug test turned up evidence of cannabis use, no matter how legal. The VA reformed that policy in late 2017—but it’s a policy subject to easy change, not a protection codified by law. President Trump opposes codifying it into law.