MJ Under Trump
Hope for the Best
Prepare for the Worst
Shortly after the election I received a call from a friend who had vehemently opposed Prop. 64. Although we disagreed substantially on the issue, I respected his arguments as he never descended into invective and insults only attacking the message and not the messenger. He called to offer congratulations on a hard fought campaign and then he said although he remains dismayed at the passage of AUMA, he is glad that it passed as it solidifies the rising status of marijuana as legitimate and will make it far more difficult for the feds to pull the rug out from under the burgeoning marijuana movement.
He recognizes that the incoming Trump administration may not be as open to marijuana law reform as the Obama Administration has been and that the Clinton administration most likely would have continued. He is rightfully concerned about what the Trump administration portends not just for adult-use marijuana, but for the viability of medical marijuana as well.
The ascension of Donald Trump to the presidency is troubling and problematic. Trump has made several statements during the primary and general elections on marijuana including the oft-quoted statement made in Nevada in 2015 when he said, “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state by state.” As re-assuring as that might sound, he has not said much since and his flip-flopping on issues is well-known.
Worrisome in the extreme is the tapping of NJ Gov. Chris Christie and former NY Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for strategic advice with the most worrisome being the appointment of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. They are all well-known for their long-standing opposition to marijuana whether it be medical or adult-use, but Sessions is totally off-the-wall on the subject.
Although it would be hard to imagine that anyone could be worse than Giuliania and Christi, Sessions makes the grade. According to the New York Times he thought the Ku Klux Klan was "OK until I found out they smoked pot."
Other Sessions quotes are:
“You can’t have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana … you are sending a message to young people that there is no danger in this process. It is false that marijuana use doesn’t lead people to more drug use. It is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal.”
“The creating of knowledge that this drug is dangerous, it cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
Over the last couple years, the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment has prevented the Dept. of Justice from unleashing the DEA to enforce federal marijuana laws in states with regulated marijuana distribution systems. Unfortunately this sensible amendment comes up for renewal on Dec. 9. If it is not renewed, that would be a signal that the incoming Trump Administration has pressured Republican legislators who had voted for it before to now vote against it.
When the Trump Administration takes office on Jan. 20 and the amendment no longer in force, the Cole memo issued by the Obama Administration, which instructs prosecutors to lay-off states with regulated distribution systems, could be rescinded. Unleashed from the Cole Memo, federal prosecutors could once again begin the high-profile raids and asset forfeitures against marijuana providers as they did back in 2011.
Far more disturbing is Trump’s cuddling up with and glowing endorsement of the National Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police labor organization. Police have been the main opponents of medical marijuana and marijuana law reform as marijuana prohibition and the War on Drugs represents a substantial amount of discretionary money for police. They don’t want to lose their $50 billion a year golden goose. There should be significant concern that they will use their newfound influence to convince Trump and his administration to enforce federal law and crack down on states that have permitted the medical and adult-use of marijuana.
Another possible scenario which would allow Trump to say he is kind-of-keeping his campaign promise on marijuana would be to reschedule it to Schedule 2. This could satisfy cops and the drug warriors who could now say that marijuana has medical value but is so dangerous that it must be strictly controlled with the most stringent of regulations and penalties.
As a schedule 2 drug, doctors could prescribe it just like they do Vicodin and Percocet. It would be produced by pharmaceutical companies and filled at pharmacies. This should please big pharma as now they will be the only ones that could be licensed to provide marijuana just like now they are the only ones license to produce methamphetamines and methadone. Wow - another multi-billion dollar monopoly for big pharma.
With penalties as draconian as those for schedule 1 drugs, this will also mean providing tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to law enforcement to arrest, prosecute and imprison marijuana users for illegally using and marijuana providers for illegally distributing a schedule 2 drug.
This translates directly into more millions for Trump from big pharma and more power for Trump with the cops at his back.
Unless Trump decides to fulfill his campaign promises to let states make the decision on whether to allow medical and/or adult-use marijuana, the lion’s share of the burden of defending marijuana use and distribution will fall on California. As my friend from above noted, having the most populous state with the sixth largest economy in the world legalize all uses of marijuana will make turning the tide back far more awkward and challenging. This difficulty is compounded with seven other states and the District of Columbia legalizing marijuana along with the 27 states and D.C. legalizing the medical use of marijuana.
Difficult it might be, but restoring marijuana prohibition will be far easier a task then Trump's oft-proclaimed intention to dismantle the Affordable Care Act which now provides health insurance to 20 million Americans, build a 40 foot wall along the Mexican border and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants back to Latin America.
Can Congress stop the Trump Administration from rekindling federal intervention into how a state treats marijuana distribution? Maybe a better question will be whether Congress will even want to.
In past votes 90% of Democrats were joined by about 25% of Republicans in one of the few truly bipartisan efforts to form a majority vote to pass the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. With the small increase in Democratic numbers along with continued support of a minority of Republicans, it is possible that any attempts by the Trump administration to breathe life back into marijuana prohibition could be stymied.
That must be tempered by just how much of a priority the Trump administration chooses to make unraveling the progress that has been made over the last eight years. With Sessions as AG and setting the priorities, that could be a high priority for the DOJ.
We cannot sit passively on our butts smoking pot. We do so at our peril. We need to organize far better than we are now to strengthen the backbone of our elected officials in California to not succumb to the pressure of cops and drug warriors.
We need to be use our rising clout with the public to demonstrate, rally, petition and whatever else it takes to get the Trump administration to, at the very least, continue the Obama Administration’s policies of non-interference.
Hope for the best that Trump will keep his campaign promises to leave to the discretion of the states whether to allow marijuana distribution. Prepare for the worst if he doesn't.
It would be foolish in the extreme to wait until Trump makes his hand known before we start to organize. As big and mighty and rich as California is, we cannot do this all ourselves.
Trump reneging on his campaign promise would certainly qualify as a national crisis and calls for the formation of alliances with other medical and adult-use states. For that to happen, we must start organizing ASAP. In the Inland Empire forming coalitions with marijuana law reform organizations and other progressive groups is essential. Protecting the rights we have obtained and to continue the progress that has been made, cannot be done alone, but requires a coordinated community response.
Normally at this point I would write that this will be the subject of the next MAPP meeting, but while we will have a discussion on these most distressing circumstances and our response to them, the focus of the December MAPP meeting in Riverside will be a joyous and fond FAREWELL PARTY to the THCF Medical Clinic.
THCF Medical Clinic to Close
Farewell Party at MAPP meeting
Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Located at 647 Main St., unit 4D, in Riverside 92501, THCF opened in 2008 and was the first M.D. office outside of the Coachella Valley in the Inland Empire to provide medical marijuana recommendations. THCF’s doors will be closing at the end of 2016. Although MAPP has been operating since December 1999, the protection of medical marijuana patients and local efforts to end marijuana prohibition accelerated when MAPP meetings started being held in the Riverside offices of THCF.
Thousands of patients and advocates have attended meetings and events at THCF over the last 8 years. From organizing to thwart San Bernardino County’s lawsuit to overturn Prop. 215 to the recent establishment of perhaps the most liberal patient cultivation ordinance in the state by Riverside County, bold plans, effective actions and audacious recollections were created and made at every meeting.
So many memories, friendships and alliances were made at THCF – the stories reach the heights of legendary. This meeting/party will be a reunion where one more time, you can meet and rekindle memories of people you have known and worked with to advance the cause of medical marijuana patients and ending marijuana prohibition.
This will be a Dessert Potluck Party with ice cream sundaes plus whatever desserts you would like to bring to share. (Due to the unpredictability of edibles, please do not bring any medicated edibles to share.)
HOWEVER – this is a cannabis friendly event and cannabis consumption – smoking, vaporizing and so on can be enjoyed if you care to do so.
More information on the THCF Farewell Party at the Dec. 7 MAPP meeting will be forthcoming in the next email newsletter. Mark your calendar for this very special event to celebrate 8 years of providing medical marijuana recommendations to thousands of patients and being the center of the IE’s medical marijuana and marijuana law reform activism.