With a scoop that sent shockwaves through the nation’s cannabis industry, Buzzfeed reported on Wednesday that the publication had obtained documents belonging to President Donald Trump that revealed he had convened a secret anti-cannabis effort.
As reported by Buzzfeed News reporter Dominic Holden, the White House has secretly convened a committee of federal agencies to combat public support for marijuana reform efforts across the country. The group, reportedly named the Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee, has been instructed by the White House to gather data demonstrating the most significant negative trends related to cannabis legalization, according to a summary from a July 27 meeting that Buzzfeed was able to get its hands on. Buzzfeed has not released the document and the White House told the news source “it wouldn’t discuss the deliberative process used to craft the president’s agenda.”
The committee memo noted that the current national dialogue on pot is one-sided and needed to be counterbalanced with negative information “on marijuana threats.” To accomplish their goal of reversing America public interest in cannabis, the Trump administration memo allegedly ordered the DEA and 14 other agencies to portray marijuana in a negative light, no matter what the data said.
Buzzfeed attempted to reach out to the Trump administration to get clarity on the how the committee would be reaching any conclusions, but they refused to discuss the committee’s process. But what’s for sure, according to Buzzfeed, is that none of the documents indicated that officials are seeking data that show marijuana use or policy reforms serve any public benefit.
Cannabis Advocacy Groups Respond to Trump’s Anti-Pot Committee
The nation’s leading marijuana organizations were quick to lambast the Trump administration’s tactics in attempting to frame the national cannabis dialogue in a negative light.
“These are the death rattles of marijuana prohibition,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said in a statement shortly after Buzzfeed released the story. “Those who seek to maintain the oppressive policies of cannabis criminalization are grasping at straws in their effort to undo the public policy progresses that have now been enacted in a majority of states, and that are widely supported by voters of both major political parties.”
Strekel went on to remind folks the country’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has been a lifelong advocate for the war on marijuana users.
“If these bureaucrats possessed any sincerity whatsoever, they would be clamoring to support the recently introduced, bipartisan ‘Marijuana Data Collection Act’, which tasks the National Academy of Sciences to compile an unbiased, comprehensive federal report on the effects of various state experiments with medical and retail marijuana regulation,” Strekel said.
But Strekel knows the real numbers, not the ones warped to appease the administration’s efforts, are on his side.
“In an era where 31 states now regulate marijuana sales and where more six out of ten voters endorse legalizing the plant’s use by adults, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal or cultural perspective to try to put this genie back in the bottle,” Strekel said. “It is high time that members of Congress take action to deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and comport federal law with majority public opinion and the plant’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status.
Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mason Tvert said he wasn’t surprised to see the Office of National Drug Control Policy leading Trump’s effort.
“It is not surprising that the ONDCP, which has a mandate to oppose legalization, continues to try to cast marijuana and state legalization laws in a negative light,” Tvert told Cannabis Now. “It is still unclear whether agencies have actually catered to the request for one-sided information, 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.”
Tvert says the MPP is hoping President Trump will maintain his previously stated position on marijuana policy — in which he said he would support the STATES Act, which would grant states the right to determine their own cannabis policies.
“Opponents can try as they might to demonize marijuana and undermine reform efforts, but the country is clearly headed in the direction of ending marijuana prohibition and adopting a more rational system of regulation,” said Tvert. “No amount of propaganda can change the fact that marijuana is a less harmful substance than alcohol and most Americans want it to be treated as such.”
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