Just hours after a national poll was released showing widespread support for marijuana policy reform and staunch opposition to federal interference in state marijuana laws, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer caused a stir by making some comments about marijuana enforcement during a press briefing.
Specifically, he reiterated President Trump's support for legal access to medical marijuana, noting that the current budget prohibits the Department of Justice from interfering in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. He said that recreational marijuana use is a different issue and suggested there would be "greater enforcement" of federal marijuana laws in states that have more broadly legalized marijuana. It was unclear what he meant the federal government would be interfering in such laws or simply stepping up enforcement against individuals who are violating them. President Trump said during his campaign that marijuana law should be left to the states.
MPP issued the following statement in response to Spicer's comments:
“The vast majority of Americans agree that the federal government has no business interfering in state marijuana laws. This administration is claiming that it values states’ rights, so we hope they will respect the rights of states to determine their own marijuana policies. It is hard to imagine why anyone would want marijuana to be produced and sold by cartels and criminals rather than tightly regulated, taxpaying businesses. Mr. Spicer says there is a difference between medical and recreational marijuana, but the benefits of and need for regulation apply equally to both.
“Mr. Spicer acknowledged that the Justice Department is currently prohibited from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. It is critical that Congress once again includes that provision in the next budget, and we are hopeful that they will also adopt a provision that extends that principle to all state marijuana laws.”
According to the Quinnipiac University Poll released earlier in the day, the vast majority of U.S. voters support making marijuana legal and think the federal government should respect state marijuana laws. The nationwide survey of 1,323 voters found that five out of seven voters (71%) — including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, independents, and every age group polled — oppose the government enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have made marijuana legal for medical or adult use.
The Quinnipiac poll also found that 93% of voters support allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes and 59% support making it legal for all purposes. The results appear to be in line with national polls released by Gallup and the Pew Research Center in October, which found support for ending marijuana prohibition at 60% and 57%, respectively.