White House comments pointing to marijuana crackdown light up social media

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White House spokesman Sean Spicer’s press briefing Thursday shook up the marijuana world.

Spicer’s response to an Arkansas reporter’s query about that state’s new voter-approved medical marijuana law included comments that “there’s a big difference between (medical marijuana) and recreational marijuana,” and he went on to say “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement” by the Department of Justice in states with adult-use cannabis laws.

Politicos, cannabis industry groups, drug policy advocates and others quickly spoke out. Here’s a sampling:

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon:

“I am deeply disappointed. … The national prohibition of cannabis has been a failure, and millions of voters across the country have demanded a more sensible approach. I’m looking forward to working with the leadership of our newly formed cannabis caucus to ensure that these wishes are protected and that we end the failed prohibition on marijuana.”

New Frontier Data CEO and founder Giadha Aguirre De Carcer:
“Just yesterday, we released our projections that the cannabis sector could create almost 300,000 jobs by 2020, and it goes without saying that adult use cannabis factors significantly in that number. Adult use is now legal in eight states including the District of Columbia, covering a population of 69 million people, nearly one-fifth of the U.S. population. … Legal cannabis has been one of the fastest growing industries in the country for the past three years and any disruptions would substantially impact the economic activity stemming from this industry.”

National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith:
“It would be a mistake for the Department of Justice to overthrow the will of the voters and state governments who have created carefully regulated adult-use marijuana programs. It would represent a rejection of the values of economic growth, limited government, and respect for federalism that Republicans claim to embrace. These programs are working.”



U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colorado:
“The President has said time and again that the decision about marijuana needs to be left to the states. Now either the President is flip-flopping or his staff is, once again, speaking out of turn. Either way these comments leave doubt and uncertainty for the marijuana industry, stifling job growth in my state. The public has spoken on recreational marijuana, we’ve seen it work in Colorado, and now is the time to lift the federal prohibition.”


Mason Tvert, Marijuana Policy Project director of communications:
This administration is claiming that it values states’ rights, so we hope they will respect the rights of states to determine their own marijuana policies. It is hard to imagine why anyone would want marijuana to be produced and sold by cartels and criminals rather than tightly regulated, taxpaying businesses. Mr. Spicer says there is a difference between medical and recreational marijuana, but the benefits of and need for regulation apply equally to both.


Mark Malone, Cannabis Business Alliance executive director:

“The legal cannabis industry takes power and money out of the hands of drug cartels and puts funds into state coffers and has the real potential to help offset the Federal Government’s budget shortfalls. … Going after the legal marijuana industry would be a direct affront to the overwhelming numbers of Americans who have voted time after time to approve legal cannabis. It would also be an affront to the Cole Memo and a misuse of energy and taxpayer funds.”

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