In one of the Trump Administration’s first public statements on recreational marijuana, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated in a press conference today that the Department of Justice may seek “greater enforcement” of the federal laws prohibiting the recreational use of marijuana.
Mr. Spicer said that there is “a big difference” between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. He stated that President Trump understands the pain and suffering that people with debilitating illnesses endure and that medical marijuana brings them comfort. He also noted that in the budget bill passed by Congress in 2014, the Department of Justice was not authorized to use federal funds to prosecute users of medical marijuana in the states where it is regulated.
But recreational marijuana is a different issue, Mr. Spicer said, particularly in light of the opioid crisis in this country. When pressed on how the White House will address recreational marijuana, Mr. Spicer deferred to the Department of Justice, stating that, “I do think you’ll see greater enforcement.” The Department of Justice will be looking at the issue, and, “I believe they are going to continue to enforce the laws on the books with respect to recreational marijuana.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not reveal how he will approach recreational marijuana during his confirmation hearings last month. In response to a question from Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sessions stated that he “won’t commit to never enforcing federal law.”
Currently, eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have recreational marijuana laws.