As President Trump travels around the nation to his various reelection rallies, a giant banner with the slogan “Promises Made, Promises Kept” is always displayed prominently behind him. A quick review of a 2016 radio interview provides even more evidence that this is not true.
As part of his recently released fiscal year 2021 budget plan, Trump proposed ending an existing policy that protects state medical marijuana programs from Justice Department interference in addition to a provision that would continue to prohibit the District of Columbia from regulating the sale of marijuana for adult use. This is the opposite of what he said during his first campaign. With WWJ Newsradio 950 in Michigan on March 8, 2016, Trump said “I think it certainly has to be a state — I have not smoked it — it’s got to be a state decision … I do like it, you know, from a medical standpoint … it does do pretty good things. But from the other standpoint, I think that it should be up to the states.”
Although the rider has been continually renewed in appropriations legislation since 2014, there have been hurdles along the way. President Obama asked for the policy to be removed, and Trump doubled down by omitting all language involving medical cannabis protections.
During last year’s appropriations season, an even more expansive amendment was approved by the House. It would have provided protections for all state and territory marijuana programs, rather than just medical cannabis systems. Unfortunately, the Senate did not follow suit and the provision was excluded in the final fiscal year 2020 legislation sent to Trump’s desk.
Attached to Trump’s large-scale spending legislation in December, was a statement that said he is empowered to ignore the congressionally approved medical cannabis rider, stating that the administration “will treat this provision consistent with the President’s constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.”
Trump has been notoriously inconsistent with his view on the importance of states rights. By proposing an end to state medical marijuana protections and blocking DC from legalizing, he is potentially putting thousands of Americans at risk.