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Law Trump Statement on Medical MJ


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President Donald Trump issued his first statement on medical marijuana since he took office.

Trump on Friday signed a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that will keep the federal government funded through September 30.

The congressionally approved bill includes a rider — the Rohrabacher - Blumenauer Amendment — that disallows the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency from using federal funds to prosecute medical marijuana businesses in states where medical marijuana is legal.

Marijuana is illegal at the federal level, though 29 states have varying degrees of medical marijuana legalization on the books. The amendment doesn't extend to recreational marijuana, which is legal in eight states.

Trump, who has stayed mum on the topic of marijuana since the election, finally gave an indication as to where he stands on the issue in his statement after he signed the bill:

"Division B, section 537 provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories. I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

Tom Angell, the founder of Marijuana Majority, an advocacy group, told Business Insider he thinks that Trump's statement is the federal government's way of "asserting their right" to go after certain medical marijuana businesses if they choose to at a later date.

[M]y read is it's basically saying they reserve the right to do whatever they want and enforce prohibition regardless of the statutory prohibition on doing so," Angell said, though he doesn't think it necessarily indicates a federal crackdown on medical marijuana is coming.

Robert Capecchi, the director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in an email that Congress is growing "increasingly comfortable" with states adopting medical and recreational marijuana policies.

"Unfortunately, spending prohibitions like these expire at the end of the fiscal year, so there is still a need for a long-term solution," Capecchi added.

Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, told Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper during a private meeting in April that prosecuting state-legal marijuana businesses wouldn't be a priority for the Justice Department
Trump Spurns Congress as He Signals Medical Marijuana Fight
Toluse Olorunnipa
May 5, 2017, 3:58 PM EDT May 5, 2017, 9:56 PM EDT
  • Not bound by bar against interfering in state laws, he says
  • Signing statement rebuts numerous congressional limits
President Donald Trump signaled he may ignore a congressional ban on interfering with state medical marijuana laws, arguing in a lengthy statement that he isn’t legally bound by a series of limits lawmakers imposed on him.

Trump issued the “signing statement” Friday after he signed a measure funding the government for the remainder of the federal fiscal year, reprising a controversial tactic former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama used while in office.

Trump also suggested he may ignore gender and racial preferences in some government programs as well as congressional requirements for advance notice before taking a range of foreign policy and military actions.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has vowed to crack down on marijuana and has dismissed arguments for its medical use as “desperate.”

“I reject the idea that we’re going to be better placed if we have more marijuana,” Sessions said in a speech to law-enforcement officials in March. “It’s not a healthy substance, particularly for young people.”

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow for medical marijuana use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Trump argued in the statement that his constitutional prerogatives supersede the restrictions Congress placed on him as a condition for funding government operations.

Power Struggle
Steve Bell, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, said Trump’s signing statement signaled a desire to usurp power from the legislative branch.

“It is the constitutional prerogative of the Congress to spend money and to put limitations on spending,” Bell, a former staff director of the Senate Budget Committee and an aide to former Republican Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico, said by phone. “This is an extremely broad assertion of executive branch power over the purse.”

In the signing statement, Trump singled out a provision in the spending bill that says funds cannot be used to block states from implementing medical marijuana laws.

“I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” he said.

Making a Statement
Obama also occasionally released signing statements objecting to congressional restrictions on his authority. The White House described Trump’s signing statement as routine, but did not indicate whether the president planned to take action to defy Congressional restrictions.

Bell said Trump’s stance on the medical marijuana provision in the bill was at odds with the 10th Amendment, which protects states from federal overreach.

Tim Shaw, a senior policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said that the president is bound by the language in the spending bill that now bears his signature.

“Part of the argument here in this signing statement is that he has the constitutional requirement to execute the law,” Shaw said in an interview. “But this is one of those laws, and Congress has the ultimate authority over funds getting spent.’’
Well, this is kind of a different view of it:


President Donald Trump took on the topic of medical marijuana for the first time since he took office in November, and it appears he's kind of in favor of it.

Along with signing the most recent federal funding bill (the one that always brings the threat of a government shut down if it isn't passed), Trump signed an amendment to the bill Friday that stops the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency from using federal funds to arrest people simply for working at a medical marijuana dispensary in a state where it's legal.

SEE ALSO: The U.S. government grows some seriously garbage weed for research

Here's Trump's full statement on the amendment:

Division B, section 537 provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories. I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

In the United States, marijuana is illegal in all forms at a federal level, but 29 states have legalized the production, sale, and usage of medical marijuana in some form.

Trump's laissez-faire approach isn't exactly an endorsement of medical marijuana, but it's not an active stance against it.

The amendment doesn't include anything about states that have legalized recreational marijuana in any form.
Well, it seems clear that Trump is asserting greater power over executive branch activities and objecting to Congressional restrictions on such activities by via spending prohibitions.

What is not clear is if this is a general waggling back and forth between exec and legislative branches (which Obama also did via signing statements) or specifically aimed to the MMJ restrictions cited. That is, is he using the Rohrabacher - Blumenauer Amendment simply an example to use to object on constitutional principle to such congressional action or is this really aimed specifically at MMJ?

I don't believe any of us thought that the struggle was over, and its not. So, we must continue to be activists, each and every one of us, on MJ legalization issues.

However, with that said, I would advise those of us more susceptible to getting the vapors over every news report to take a deep breath. There are years if not decades of court battles yet to have if Trump/Sessions goes after state programs.

Was it Nixon who asserted he could withhold money specifically appropriated by Congress if he so chose. He lost that one in court also.

If Trump/Sessions spends a single sous in violation of Rohrabacher - Blumenauer, there will be immediate suits and requests for injunction, IMO.

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Sorry, one more article. I just think this is really important for us to understand. This is from The Hill, a long time and highly lauded political publication and reflects another point of view.

Trump pushes back against ban on state medical marijuana interference

President Trump issued his first "signing statement" Friday on a $1 trillion spending bill to fund the government through September.

In the statement, Trump said that some provisions of the bill could interfere with his constitutional authority, arguing that he isn't legally bound to limits imposed by Congress such as one banning the Justice Department from interfering with state medical marijuana laws.

"Division B, section 537 provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories. I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility," his statement reads.

Marijuana advocates earlier this week cheered the spending bill's provision, which protects certain states that have legalized marijuana amid fears that the Trump administration would rein in legalization laws.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a long history of opposing marijuana, telling a conference of state attorneys general in February that he's "dubious" to the drug's benefits. He has also called the drug “more dangerous … than a lot of people realize."

"Marijuana is against federal law, and that applies in states where they may have repealed their own anti-marijuana laws,” Sessions told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in March. “So yes, we will enforce law in an appropriate way nationwide.”

Twenty-nine states, as well as the District of Columbia, have medical marijuana laws on the books, while 21 states have decriminalized the drug.

Presidents typically release statements when signing legislation, which they can use to raise constitutional objections or explain the president's position on an issue.

In his statement Friday, Trump also took issue with language requiring advance notice of military action and restricting the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay.

In both cases, Trump said he would treat the provisions "consistently with my constitutional authority as Commander in Chief" and "and consistent with my constitutional authority and duty as Commander in Chief to protect national security."
Trump's Medical Marijuana Threat Contradicts the Law and His Own Position
A signing statement suggests the president may ignore a congressional rider protecting patients' access to cannabis.

The appropriations bill that President Trump signed on Friday renews a rider that bars the Justice Department from interfering with the implementation of state laws allowing medical use of marijuana. But Trump signaled in a signing statement that he may decide to ignore that restriction, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, notwithstanding his repeatedly expressed support for medical marijuana and for respecting state policy choices in this area.

"Division B, section 537 provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories," Trump says in the signing statement. "I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." The implication is that Trump's duty to enforce the federal ban on marijuana, which makes no exception for medical use, could compel him to disregard the bill's limits on the use of DOJ money.

That position makes no sense, since Trump's duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed includes this law, which explicitly tells the Justice Department to refrain from interfering with state medical marijuana programs. Last August the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment prohibits the Justice Department from prosecuting medical marijuana suppliers who comply with state law, and the same analysis would also apply to civil forfeiture actions. As Steve Bell, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center, told Bloomberg News, "It is the constitutional prerogative of the Congress to spend money and to put limitations on spending." Bell described Trump's signing statement as "an extremely broad assertion of executive branch power over the purse."

Trump is not only trying to usurp the congressional power to decide how taxpayers' money will be spent; he is threatening to interfere with the autonomy that states are supposed to have under the 10th Amendment. He is also contradicting his own position both before and after his election. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in March 2015, Trump said he was leery of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, but "medical marijuana is another thing." He said he was "100 percent" in favor of medical use. He made similar statements while campaiging in Nevada that October, in New Hampshire the following January, and in Michigan two months later.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer reiterated Trump's support for medical marijuana in February. "There's two distinct issues here: medical marijuana and recreational marijuana," Spicer said. "I think medical marijuana, I've said before that the president understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them. And that's one that Congress, through a rider...put in an appropriations bill saying the Department of Justice wouldn't be funded to go after those folks. There is a big difference between that and recreational marijuana."

The rider to which Spicer referred is the very one Trump has now signaled he may flout. Mind you, Trump has said states should be free even to legalize marijuana for recreational use, although he does not think that's a good idea. In the case of medical marijuana, he has taken the further step of saying he supports the policy, which makes this latest threat all the more puzzling.

"Donald Trump continues to send mixed messages on marijuana," says Michael Collins, deputy director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "After stating during the campaign that he was '100 percent' in support of medical marijuana, he now issues a signing statement casting doubt on whether his administration will adhere to a congressional rider that stops DOJ from going after medical marijuana programs. The uncertainty is deeply disconcerting for patients and providers, and we urge the administration to clarify their intentions immediately."

Just make a clear statement so we know where to draw the battle lines....sigh.
Trump is good at his rap and if it looks like he going to hit a hard stop he changes his position and moves off. So whatever he says on a given topic or day is subject to change in my view. Watching the AG and DEA domestic actions will probably be more indicative of actual policy.
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California Rep. Rohrabacher says he’ll take medical marijuana fight to Supreme Court if need be

Rohrabacher is confident the courts will continue to back Congress’ right to determine how federal funds are spent

By Brooke Edwards Staggs, The Cannifornian

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said he hopes to convince Attorney General Jeff Sessions that good people do indeed sometimes smoke pot. But if he can’t, the Republican congressman from Costa Mesa said he’ll see his longtime friend in court.

“Marijuana laws in this country have violated every basic principle this country stands for over the last 75 years. It’s time to stop,” Rohrabacher said during a roundtable talk on cannabis at UC Irvine on Friday.

“If we have to take it all the way to the Supreme Court, we will win on this.”

Though 29 states have legalized medical marijuana and eight, including California, allow recreational cannabis, the drug remains illegal at the federal level.

Rohrabacher — who has used cannabis himself to ease arthritis and visited the Bud and Bloom dispensary in Santa Ana on Friday night after his talk — has unexpectedly become a leading figure in the fight to change that.

He co-authored the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which has blocked the Department of Justice since 2014 from spending money on medical marijuana prosecutions in states where cannabis is legal. That amendment became even more crucial once President Donald Trump appointed Sessions, who has said “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” sparking concerns of a renewed federal crackdown on state-legal dispensaries.

The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment was set to expire but was included in an omnibus spending bill approved Thursday to fund the federal government through September.

“I had to work really hard to make sure it was in the omnibus bill,” Rohrabacher said. “I had to run around and talk to people and twist arms.”

He was celebrating the win Thursday. But as Trump signed that omnibus bill Friday, he indicated that he might ignore Congress and instead interfere with state medical marijuana programs after all.

“It is nebulous, but nebulous doesn’t mean we’ve lost,” Rohrabacher said. “We have other forces at play — legal forces.”

He said he’s known Sessions since they were teenagers involved in conservative organizations. He said the attorney general is “an honest man and person who has got a good heart.” But he said Sessions is someone who “thinks he can help you along by telling you what to do with your personal life.”

Rohrabacher spoke with Sessions at the Capitol on Thursday, he said, and they made plans for an in-depth meeting on the cannabis issue.

He wouldn’t predict which way those talks will go. But he said if Sessions doesn’t come around and instead manages to convince Trump to go back on his campaign pledge to support medical marijuana and let state rights stand, then Rohrabacher is confident the courts will continue to back Congress’ right to determine how federal funds are spent.

“It would be a huge waste of his time and money, and why would he do that?” the congressman said.

While we are intensely interested in this subject due to its relationship to MJ, the real issue here is much broader, deeper, and more fundamental to our country and is indeed regarding who controls the purse strings. This has been litigated before in everything from line item veto debates to Nixon taking the position that Congress can appropriate what it wants but he doesn't have to spend it. In each time, I believe, the Executive branch lost the debate. IF Trump/Sessions decide to attempt to spend money to interfere in any way with state level MMJ programs, against the specific injunction against doing so in the last appropriations bill, it will all end up in court again....for years....probably under a court injunction to the DOJ to cease violating behavior until the issue is resolved.

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