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Trump White House Committee Wants Dirt on Legalization

August 29, 2018
White House staffers want President Trump to turn against legalization. (Alex Brandon/AP)
The forces of US cannabis prohibition aren’t going gently into that good night.

Turns out, they’re trying to amass a collection of cherry-picked data and scare stories that will reverse surging voter support for ending the federal war on marijuana, which has failed after more than 80 years and tens of millions of arrests.

Today, BuzzFeed news reported the existence of an anti-marijuana committee in the Trump White House soliciting 15 federal agencies for data on the negative effects of cannabis law reforms, including legalization.

A White House anti-marijuana committee has been asked to collect negative data for a slam book against legalization.

The group specifically asked for scare stories or pictures to illustrate legalization critics’ concerns — typically drugged driving, teenage marijuana use, and trumped up mental health claims.

According to BuzzFeed, a “Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee” told the agencies via email in August to submit “data demonstrating the most significant negative trends” about marijuana and the “threats” it poses to the country.

BufzzFeed reporter Dominic Holden writes: “the committee’s records show it is asking officials only to portray marijuana in a negative light, regardless of what the data show. … None of the documents indicate that officials are seeking data that show marijuana consumption or legalization laws, which have been approved in eight states, serve any public benefit or do a better job of reducing drug abuse.”

Find Legal Cannabis Near You on Leafly

Wrong Side of History

According to Committee emails, it believes “The prevailing marijuana narrative in the U.S. is partial, one-sided, and inaccurate.” The goal is to brief President Trump on “marijuana threats”.

President Trump has backed efforts to allow states to set their own cannabis policy, most notably through Colorado Sen. Corey Gardner’s bill to exempt legalization states from federal marijuana laws. On the campaign trail he said cannabis should be a state’s rights issue, though he said it came with negative effects. In the past Trump has stated the US should legalize all drugs.

A record high 63 percent of US voters support legalizing cannabis for adults 21 and over. More than 80 percent of Americans support medical cannabis legalization. Nine states and Washington DC have legalized cannabis, and more than 30 have some medical marijuana law on the books.


Washington Sees Declines in Teen Use, Treatment Admissions Since Legalization

The White House might be trying to put together a slam book on marijuana — but there’s never been more evidence of legalization’s benefits. Washington, Colorado, and Oregon officials have hailed reforms, which have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue while actually reducing teen use. Longtime legalization opponent and Calif. Sen. Diane Feinstein now supports states rights to cannabis policy. There’s also been no conclusive evidence legalization has led to an uptick in drugged driving, rather Colorado has seen decreases of it. Police also were not effectively tracking the issue before legalization generated tax dollars to do so.


California’s Cannabis Cities Reap Millions in Sales Taxes, the Rest Miss Out

Paul Armentano, deputy director for national legalization group NORML said the Committee will fail amid real-world voter experience with legalization.

“It is not a surprise that those wedded to the policy of cannabis criminalization and willing to take any means necessary to try and reverse the course of public opinion,” he told Leafly Wednesday. “Fortunately, propaganda and fear-mongering will not change the reality enjoyed by those millions of Americans who now live in jurisdictions where marijuana is legally regulated. Their real-world, day-to-day experience reveals that state and local governments can regulate cannabis in a manner that keeps it out of the hands of children while simultaneously satisfying the seller, the consumer and the taxman — and the sky won’t fall. Though some in the administration may wish for a return to the ‘Just Say no’ era, Americans today know better and no amount of reefer madness is likely to change their perspective.”

Mason Tvert, spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, added a note of caution. “It is still unclear whether agencies have actually catered to the request for one-sided information,” he said, “but we hope they will fulfill their obligation to stick to the facts about marijuana and provide an accurate analysis of how state marijuana laws are working.”

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David Downs

David Downs directs news and lifestyle coverage as the California Bureau Chief for He's written for WIRED, Rolling Stone and Billboard, and is the former cannabis editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as the author of several cannabis books including 'Marijuana Harvest' by Ed Rosenthal and David Downs. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. TW: @davidrdowns | IG @daviddowns

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  • jontomas

    The July 27 meeting was coordinated by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, aka the “Drug Czar.” The Drug Czar’s job description states they must fight against marijuana legalization by every means possible. – That includes lying, as we have seen over the last few decades.

    They are only carrying out their mandated function and also attempting to justify their existence. This office, which could just as well be called, the “Ministry of Propaganda,” should, indeed, be dismantled.

    Their pronouncements and “projects” reflect Trump’s position as much – or rather, as little, as Jeff Sessions raving about marijuana consumers not being good people.

    Wave good-bye to the dinosaurs as they sink into the tar pit.

    • Gary Craig

      They’re, the prohibitionist drug warriors, are flailing, crasping at straws. This is a desperate attempt by desperate people. It’s very hard, if not impossible, to “put toothpaste back in the tube” once out. The legal states are not going to take kindly to any attempted federal crackdown/shutdown in their state. The lies & propaganda aren’t working anymore.

      • bullish_11

        I pray your correct Gary, but this admin has been anything but normal and won’t put anything past them in an attempt to ‘put the toothpaste back in’…

  • Dante-the-cat

    Still afraid of a plant I see. Welcome to the middle ages, America.

  • Highway 69

    Meh…consider the source.
    The result will be just another “Reefer Madness” comedy produced by this administration — to be laughed at for the foreseeable future.

  • 24 Hour Man

    What a complete and utter DUMb $ass….so now this agenda is what the “base” wants????? MORE PROHIBITION???? Repubs are supposed to be known for LESS gov’t and more personal freedom. Isn’t there ANYONE in the WH with half a brain????

  • 24 Hour Man

    What a complete and utter buffoon….so now this agenda is what the “base” wants????? MORE PROHIBITION???? Repubs are supposed to be known for LESS gov’t and more personal freedom. Isn’t there ANYONE in the WH with half a brain????

    • Gary Craig

      Oh they’re for states right alright, but it’s the “rights” they approve of. Cannabis legalization isn’t one of the “approved rights” they are down with.

  • 24 Hour Man

    Can anyone give John Boehner a call and get educated on this????

  • FlunkedAgain

    NY Governor Cuomo has called for a study of Legalized Adult Use Marijuana after being pushed off the ledge that he was gorilla glued to by his Primary Opponent. The report will probably lead to half-hearted legalization with an emphasis on Taxation. Legalized Home Grown probably isn’t in the cards for now.

    The Massachusetts border is about 30 miles from Albany and as soon as Adult Use is up and running in Massachusetts, the Governor of New York can watch tax dollars head east from their office.

    In any event, the Trump Team will have access to the New York report, and the Massachusetts experience soon enough. It’s doubtful that Team Trump will be able to counter the Green Wave heading their way.

    Marijuana is a People issue, not a Political issue. Neither Party will expel Adult Use proponents because they need their votes.

  • Randallpiz

    I am a healthy 47 year old male who has consumed cannabis EVERY SINGLE DAY since 1984.
    That’s all I got.

    • Gary Craig

      What, you were 11, or 12, when you started?

  • This is Fake News! President Trump is NOT against MMJ legalization!

  • Etidorhpa

    Leafly why not do a serious poll of the number of marijuana users in the workforce of America and the field they work in. If you polled Amtrak and found 90% of the employees use marijuana daily, that would be significant information. I’d first try to find all the accidents Amtrak have had since marijuana legalization and number of deaths then compare and contrast.

  • darkaquarian

    But yet alcohol is 100% legal with NO medical benefits…. Whoever these so called comitee analysts are need to GTFOH

  • Cailen Rock

    He just got laughed at instead… I was dying when everyone laughed and hurt his fragile ego. Unfortunately, we are the brunt of this joke. #patriot you support a fake patriot party. They wave the flag scream freedom. The only thing Trump supports is his team not America.

    • Gary Craig

      Yeah, like the freedom that the Congressional Freedom Caucus is for?

    • Gary Craig

      But, but, but Trump said that those at the UN were “laughing with” him and not “laughing AT him.” He looked kinda flustered to be in on the joke, don’t ya think?