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Where Does Donald Trump Stand on Cannabis? It’s Anyone’s Guess

July 19, 2016

At the Republican National Convention this week, Donald J. Trump will be officially crowned the party’s presidential candidate. With the possibility of a Trump presidency becoming very, very real, cannabis advocates are naturally curious about just what that would mean for legalization efforts.

As with many of Trump’s policies, specifics are vexingly hard to come by. The “Positions” section of his official website does not offer any comment on cannabis. The only official comment on drugs can be found under the “Issues” section, in which he offers a short video on the drug epidemic in New Hampshire. In it, he promises to stem the flow of drugs from south of the border (with the Mexico-funded wall, of course), but neither gives specifics on what drugs he’s referring to nor offers any opinion on the legal cannabis already being grown right here in the U.S.

None of the other materials on the site offer any comment on cannabis. Trump has spoken on the issue previously, but his comments are a far cry from an actual policy position. In 1990, he came out strongly in favor of legalization. And not just for cannabis, but for all drugs.

“We’re losing badly the war on drugs,” he famously said at a 1990 Miami Herald luncheon. “You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profit away from these drug czars.”

Meet Ann Lee, the Texas Republican Calling for Legalization in Cleveland

Important to note: In 1990, Trump wasn’t running for office. And while he was solid on legalization then, these days he’s more than a little gelatinous. His recent comments on cannabis legalization are typical to his knack for political expediency, largely consisting of unsupported observations and noncommittal platitudes. His opinion on cannabis neatly mirrors the political viability of various issues within cannabis. To wit, he is fully in favor of medical cannabis and sitting comfortably on the fence in regards to recreational.

Indeed, his love for legalization, full blown in 1990, has been reduced to hemming and hawing in 2016. In an interview this February on Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor, Trump responded to Bill O’Reilly’s pointedly anti-pot questioning — what would The Donald do to stop the evil scourge of cannabis legalization? — with this rather milquetoast waffle: “I would, I would really want to think about that one, Bill, because in some ways, I think it’s good, and in other ways, it’s bad.”

While he did pick a running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who is clearly anti-cannabis in all its forms, Trump has also shown that he cares very little about Pence’s opinions. Pressed recently by CBS’ Lesley Stahl about how he can be openly critical of the Iraq War while his VP was definitively in favor of it, Trump shot back, “I don’t care.”

 Mike Pence, Trump’s VP Pick, is Bad News for Cannabis Reform

In the same vein, there’s the issue of Trump’s affection for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who’s been a notorious anti-cannabis crusader in his home state. While Christie didn’t get the VP nod, he’s considered a potential pick for attorney general should Trump win the White House. While the thought of Christie overseeing the U.S. Department of Justice is one that should definitely give cannabis advocates cause for concern, it may also be a non-issue.

You see, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a key member of his campaign staff, is not a Christie fan. In 2005, Christie was the prosecutor on a nasty, convoluted case in which Kushner’s father, Charles, was convicted of making illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering. Safe to say the Kushners, who are part of Trump’s inner circle, would not be thrilled to see Christie as AG.

Regardless, while Pence and Christie’s anti-cannabis records have been the subject of much speculation by the cannabis blogosphere, that might say more about the lack of an actual stance from Trump himself.

 Republican Platform: Let’s Worry About Legalization

While Trump is very clearly pro-medical marijuana, saying that he supports it “a hundred percent,” that’s as much as he’s offered. His veteran’s reform “Position” is an ample essay, addressing concerns that have a lot to do with cannabis — PTSD, for example — but it doesn’t actually mention cannabis at all. Would President Trump sign another iteration of the recent appropriations bill that called on the VA to allow veterans access to medical marijuana? Who knows? Would President Trump order the DEA to move cannabis to Schedule II? Go fish. Would President Trump defy his party, which recently declined to include medical marijuana reform on its platform, in order to allow patients access nationwide?


It’s almost more difficult to predict what Trump would do in terms of recreational cannabis. Though his most recent comments on the issue were not kind to Colorado — he told Fox’s Sean Hannity in March that “they’ve got a lot of problems going on right now” — he’s also been careful to espouse states’ rights, prefacing that comment with, “If they vote for it, they vote for it.” Would an elected Trump send the DEA in to shut it all down? Doesn’t seem likely, given his professed respect for state’s rights, but his criticisms of state-level legalization experiments aren’t exactly reassuring.

Essentially, he’s pandering to two classic Republican constituencies — the “Don’t Tread on Me” crowd and the “Just Say No” crowd — all in the same breath. What that means in terms of on-the-ground policy is anyone’s guess.

If there’s one thing to be said about Trump, though, it’s that he’s a panderer par excellence. And while he hasn’t offered any specifics on what he would do on cannabis as commander in chief, it’s safe to say that the best weathervane for his potential policies might be the whims of public opinion itself.

Which, if you’re keeping up with the polls these days, might not be such a bad thing.

 Clinton Vows Tepid Leadership on Cannabis

Photo by Gage Skidmore

  • bryan king

    Don’t worry, marijuana will be made legal in all states for medicinal use once Monsanto creates a GMO strain. There’s no “patent” on marijuana so it’s not going to pull in the cash like other pharmaceuticals would. I quit smoking for almost 2 years and 6 months into it I started getting real bad anxiety and panic attacks and I could not figure out why and did not make the connection because it happened 6 months after so I figured it could not be attributed to quitting I also started to get really depressed and tried all these different antidepressants and was given xanax too

    I just started smoking again and for the first time in what seems like eternity I was able to “feel” again and the 2 years without it combined with antidepressants and Xanax made me emotionally void (wasn’t happy/wasn’t sad) I was just nothing which in my opinion is a lot worse than being sad lol to be able to find joy again in the “small things”

    Now I can laugh at my own mistakes and at the same time my outlook and mood greatly improved and I’m not talking about when I’m “high” this happens I’m talking about the residual effects of marijuana that remain even when you don’t smoke to be honest I don’t even understand how modern antidepressants got approved because those things are barbaric and over little more than a placebo effect and if someone can take Xanax from their doctor daily which is highly addictive and can even be fatal if stopped abruptly then I don’t see the issue with marijuana lol meanwhile we have places like CVS and other pharmacies around the U.S that are literally selling methamphetamine to kids ages 6+ under the brand name Desoxyn (you know the same drug the “war on drugs” portrays as one of the most addictive substances) it’s perfectly acceptable to let little Sussie take some meth for breakfast before school because she has trouble concentrating (this blows my mind)

  • Joseph A. Tucci

    Clinton’s Leaked Wikileaks shows emails of her true stance on medical cannabis. Lost My Vote

  • sammy

    hilary clinton has said she is against legalizing weed “in all senses of the word” and will keep it a class1 illegal crime (and this was at a BANKING convention – no doubt the dems make money from incarcerating ppl from it into private prisons).
    So it’ll be easy not voting for hellary and taking a chance with Trump.

  • Aaron

    Well, definitely not voting for trump now!

    • Gary Cooper

      Trump is laughing at you boy! do really think he cares for you? he is a godless man. a user.The only one cares is Jesus Christ live right. repent! Trump is a rich man, a man of riches. If he cares so much. He must give up it all. You know what Jesus said about rich men. May god open your eyes. Gary Cooper 62years

  • TheWaySheGoes

    Anyone else notice that Dana Schwartz tweet got ‘420’ likes, xD a bit ironic, just a bit. lmao!

  • freewheelinfranklin543

    Seems leafly supported a candidate who is against medical pot and legal pot as in Hillary Clinton. You people are disgusting.

  • Gary Cooper

    Medical jane ! Gods creation. .we need many sick people.not like man made poison. Gary Cooper 62 years old in ohio needing treatment the oil much better.

  • Akwanny Burnavistas

    It’s from the earth,it’s not some man made shit.It’s actually growing from the ground straight to up,it’s just like eating vegetables you know what i’m saying.

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