WASHINGTON, D.C.- The Trump administration could be preparing to wage an information war on cannabis.
According to a report by Buzzfeed, who interviewed government officials and obtained relevant documents, the White House has put together a committee of federal agencies with the shared goal of pushing back against growing public support for cannabis. The Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee has instructed 14 federal agencies as well as the Drug Enforcement Agency to submit “data demonstrating the most significant negative trends” on cannabis and the danger it presents to the United States.
The committee is complaining that the overall perception of cannabis is predominantly positive and is seeking to provide a counter-narrative.
“The prevailing marijuana narrative in the U.S. is partial, one-sided, and inaccurate,” according to a summary of a July 27 meeting of the White House and nine departments. In a later memo to help guide agencies, the White House said “Departments should provide … the most significant data demonstrating negative trends, with a statement describing the implications of such trends.”
Many cannabis advocates and patients were concerned about what actions President Trump’s administration would take after the 2016 election. Trump issued conflicting statements on cannabis policy on the campaign trail. Once elected, his selection of Jeff Sessions, a well-known opponent of legalization, as the U.S. Attorney General generated fears of a mass crackdown on the cannabis industry. However, in June, Trump signaled his support for a bipartisan bill that would protect state rights when it came to legalizing cannabis.
Despite reports of the committee’s formation, Senator Corey Gardner (R-CO) is still hopeful that the president will keep his word.
“There seems to be a lot of interest in these storylines going around about how staff are trying to manipulate the president or to work around his firmly held policy positions – including the position he’s held since the campaign that marijuana policy is best left to the states…” Gardner spokesman Alex Siciliano said according to the Denver Post.
As Gardner alluded to, many believe that some of Trump’s staffers are urging the president to push back on cannabis legalization.
“Staff believe that if the administration is to turn the tide on increasing marijuana use there is an urgent need to message the facts about the negative impacts of marijuana use, production, and trafficking on national health, safety, and security,” according to the meeting summary.
Members of the cannabis industry have come out against any effort to derail states rights and legalization.
“We believe in a federalist solution that defers to the states when it comes to fixing the federal/state disconnect over cannabis law,” said Neal Levine, CEO of the Cannabis Trade Federation. “The STATES Act addresses the majority of the cannabis industry’s issues that are unique to us, especially in regard to our federal tax rates, lack of access to banking, and the threat of police enforcement and asset forfeiture. President Trump and his administration have said that they support the STATES Act, this has been confirmed by Sen. Gardner, and we have seen nothing to indicate that position has changed.”