The State Of CBD & THC Legalization In Trump’s Presidency
Not infrequently, a customer entering one of our shops will inquire as to the legality of our CBD and kratom products. We hear questions like: “Can I get in trouble for having this?”
Our answers to these valid questions are happily positive – Kratom and CBD have been ruled to be completely legal in Texas and 43 other states, while recent and continuous strides forward in marijuana legalization would seem to be an indication that these rulings are here to stay. Seven states voted ‘yes’ to the legalization of either recreational or medical marijuana in our recent election, but these positive results are somewhat overshadowed by what I’m sure is a new question on people’s minds- what does a Trump presidency mean for legalization?
You might think the most obvious way to answer that question would be to look back and see what Trump himself has said on the subject. A Washington Post article from October 2015 collected statements made by the then-campaigning Trump and concluded that he has “taken a variety of stances on drug control,” making the answer to our question slightly murky. Comments made by the incumbent all the way back in April 1990 that “‘We’re losing badly the war on drugs… You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profit away from these drug czars,’” would certainly make one think that legalization would continue to advance with the next presidency. However, this earlier certainty on the benefits of legalization hasn’t appeared in statements during or after his campaign. At times, his stance has been that THC legalization “should be a state issue, state-by-state,” and that we should “leave it up to the states” whether or not marijuana is legalized. These comments have been heartening to pro-legalization groups, who are afraid that Trump might decide to crack down against states with laws that differ from the federal government.
At other times, his comments have been less reassuring; the same Washington Post article quotes Trump at another point saying he believes legalization is a bad idea, that “if they [the state] vote for it, they vote for it. But, you know, they have got a lot of problems in Colorado right now. Some big problems.” Trump has referenced these ‘problems’ in several discussions, using a distinctly negative tone that hasn’t appeared in other statements on the subject.
It’s a confusing collection of stances; he supports state’s rights to decide legalization for themselves, turns, and says that such decisions are problematic. These polar points of view do little to help us answer our earlier question, however, there is one specific aspect of legalization that Trump seems to have his mind made up on. On multiple occasions, Trump has voiced support for the legalization of medical marijuana. In a town hall MSNBC held with Trump, he stated “as far as drug legalization, we talk about marijuana, and in terms of medical, I think I am basically for that. I’ve heard some wonderful things in terms of medical,” a stance that seems to lie directly between the most extreme points of view he’s expressed. In a speech made in Nevada, Trump again stated “I think medical should happen– right? Don’t we agree? I think so.” Later he clarified that his support hinged on the medical benefits of marijuana, and that if deemed medically beneficial he would support it.
Based on these changing opinions, Trump seems to have a lot of internal debate on the subject of marijuana legalization. For the most part, his statements are not wholly against it, but the variability and uncertainty in his responses do not give us an answer to the question ‘what does a Trump presidency mean for CBD & THC legalization?’
Since his words don’t paint a clear picture, we can look at Trump’s first actions after the election for clues as to what stance he will support once in office. Despite liberal remarks about legalization, Trump’s appointments are quickly showing a more conservative side, none more than the appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama for Attorney General. Sessions has been a longtime supporter of the war on drugs, and, according to CNN, infamously joked that he “thought Klan members were ‘OK, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.’ ” When compared to his fairly moderate statements on marijuana, Trump’s appointment of Sessions seems strongly conservative.
Pro-legalization groups are rattled at the choice, USA Today has reported. The hope is that “the views of Trump… will outweigh those of Sessions,” or that the Attorney General would adhere to Trump’s more lenient view of CBD & THC legalization. As the article points out, however, should Sessions want to reverse the spread of legalization, “a few high-profile raids by the DEA would likely dissuade many of those who are today publicly selling cannabis.” All in all, the appointment of Sessions is a disheartening news for those in favor of THC & CBD legalization. While Trump’s statements on the subject are, on the whole, moderate, his choice of Attorney General doesn’t carry the same sentiment at all.
So- what does a Trump presidency mean for THC legalization? As it stands, it’s hard to say. Trump’s sentiment seems to be that if a true medical benefit exists, he supports THC & CBD legalization. Scientists from Alabama, Jeff Sessions’ home state, announced on the state’s website just a week ago that they had tested “cannabidiol oil for seizure treatment,” and found that two-thirds of the patients experienced “major improvements in symptoms.” This study is one of many with similar findings, making it hard to believe that Trump could question the validity of CBD and kratom as being medically beneficial. If Trump stands by what he’s said, the legality of CBD and kratom shouldn’t be questioned, however, marijuana’s label as a schedule 1 drug makes it difficult for proof to be compiled in its favor.
The proven health benefits for CBD and kratom make it likely that these products won’t face criticism from Trump’s government, the same can’t be said for the most tentative hold of legal marijuana.
Trump’s Anti-Pot Attorney General Choice Rattles Legal Marijuana Movement: Trevor Hughes, Dec. 1, 2016, USA Today – Link
Trump softens position on marijuana legalization: Jenna Johnson, Oct. 29, 2015 – Link
Alabama researchers announce positive findings of Cannabidiol study, Amy Yurkanin, Dec. 4, 2016 – Link
Full transcript: MSNBC Town Hall with Donald Trump-moderated by Chris Matthews, Sessions dogged by old allegations of racism, Scott Zamost – Link