As Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt made it crystal clear that he was against marijuana reform.
Marijuana activists have experienced a great deal of anxiety during the short tenure of President Donald Trump’s administration. The confirmations of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Tom Price as the head of Health and Human Services have not instilled confidence in reformists. Certainly, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could not spell more potentially bad news for the reform movement. Right?
Not so fast.
Trump’s new head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, sued Colorado after the state’s residents approved recreational marijuana in 2012 while he was serving as Oklahoma‘s Attorney General. Pruitt’s lawsuit claimed that Colorado was negatively impacting neighboring states by “draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems.”
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
Pruitt was also accused of sabotaging a medical marijuana ballot initiative in Oklahoma. Critics claimed that he intentionally altered the ballot title in order to increase the likelihood that voters would reject the initiative. Initially, the ballot made it clear that residents were voting on whether or not to allow the licensed sales of medical marijuana to patients with a physician’s recommendation.
The ballot read quite differently when voters finally got to see it at their polling places:
“This measure legalizes the licensed use, sale and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma. There are no qualifying medical conditions identified.”
The revised language did not exactly have a reassuring tone for those considering legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.
Of course, the head of the EPA does not set drug or health policy. Still, activists are likely not going to sleep well, as Trump keeps placing anti-marijuana voices in prominent roles in his administration. Trump does not seem to have a particularly strong opinion either way on marijuana law and has made conflicting statements over the years on the best way to handle it.
If his cabinet members were intent on rolling back the liberalized approach the federal government has taken in regards to legalization, would Trump find it worth fighting?