MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Trump Endorses Marijuana Federalism Bill

The president gave a hedged endorsement of a bill to exempt state-level legal weed from federal prohibition.

Cheriss May/Sipa USA/NewscomCheriss May/Sipa USA/NewscomPresident Donald Trump gave a hedged endorsement to marijuana federalism bill this morning while speaking with reporters on the White House Lawn.

The bill in question, known as the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States or (STATES) act, was introduced yesterday by Sens. Corey Gardner (R-Colo.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), both of whom represent states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

Their legislation would amend the Controlled Substances Act to make it inapplicable in those states, federal territories, and tribal lands that have passed some form of marijuana legalization. It would also open the financial sector to state-legal cannabusinesses, many of whom are unable to access credit, buy insurance, or even deposit cash in banks.

Asked if he supported the bill, Trump said: "I really do. I support Sen. Gardner. I know exactly what he's doing. We're looking at it, but we'll probably end up supporting that, yes."

Trump's comment "is a big deal," says Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), a pro-legalization group. "This legislation is the first bicameral, bipartisan bill ever introduced at the federal level."

The Trump administration has had a rocky relationship with state-legal marijuana. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been explicit in his hostility to legalization efforts. In January he rescinded Obama-era guidelines that deprioritized enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that had legalized it.

Gardner was critical of the move at the time. The senator then spent several months in conversation with the White House, attempting to craft legislation that could win the president's support. The STATES Act is the product of that effort.

"It's a first step, but it's a big first step," says Altieri. "It would essentially codify the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment [which forbids the Justice Department from spending money going after state-legal medical marijuana efforts] but extend that" to states that have legalized recreational pot.

With Trump's seeming endorsement of the legislation, drug reformers eyes now move to Congress, where either Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or House Speaker Paul Ryan could stall the bill.

"We hope these bills will be given the attention they deserve. If lawmakers base their decisions on the facts, there is no reason they wouldn't happen," says Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project.

Sessions, for his part, told Colorado Public Radio today that he has not been privy to Trump's discussions with Gardner and that he will continue to enforce federal marijuana laws as written, including in states that have opted for legalization.

This post has been updated.

Photo Credit: Cheriss May/Sipa USA/Newscom

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Cy||

    Another Trump piece...

    *in a panic, checks address bar for 'cnn.'*

  • Zeb||

    Well, he is the president. It's kind of relevant when discussing federal legislation.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Pot is part of the libertarian trinity.

  • rocks||

    Not anymore, Trump is going to be the president that decriminalized pot and he is now going to get almost all of the former libertarian vote (not that that counts for much though)

  • Eidde||

    His position on Mexicans cancels out his position on pot.

    I don't know his position on the third thing.

  • StackOfCoins||

    He signed SESTA-FOSTA so I think it's safe to say he's not for the proles hiring sex workers.

    Two scoops.

  • gphx||

    If weed is legalized maybe the libertarian party will stop being seen as the party of idiots who talk about it 24/7.

    Nah, won't happen.

  • Rachel44||

    Begin profiting week after week. This is a significant low maintenance work for everybody. The best part work from solace of your home and get paid from $500-$2k each week.Start today and have your first money toward the finish of this week.For More Info.. howtoearn.club

  • GILMORE™||

    clearly this is a wait + see sort of thing.

    but if you can't even muster guarded enthusiasm, you've pretty much lost the plot.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I would not be posting about your marijuana plot online, if I were you.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Uh oh. Democratic talking points are being hijacked by Trump...again.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I wonder if their TDS will get them to switch sides against pot. Just because Trumo is in any way for it now.

  • Zeb||

    Not as long as Elizabeth Warren is associated with it.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I always knew it would take a Republican President to get any real movement on federal marijuana prohibition.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Democrats are too Nanny-State to rollback a massive unconstitutional prohibition scheme like the Controlled Substances Act.

    This serves at least three purposes for Trump: He is for drug decriminalization, he rolls back government, and steals the talking point away from Democrats.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    An astute observation.

  • wnoise||

    Four purposes: it also pisses off Jeff Sessions.

  • Ecoli||

    Hillary told us, "we can't legalize it, there is too much money in it".

    MAGA

  • ||

    'Okay we change our mind, marijoowanna is bad m'kay?'

    /Prog.

  • Cy||

    Next on CBS News: Trump supports Reefer Madness

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Cheech, Chong, and Trump?

  • Cy||

    Tonight on Rachel Madcow: Trump and his collusion with drug cartels.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The lefties are really going to freak out about this for two weeks.

  • Tony||

    If you ever watched progressive media you'd shit your drawers in shock at how intellectually and ethically consistent they are about things, at least compared to their alternative at FOX.

  • Agammamon||

    Which ones? Name 'em.

    If by 'ethically consistent' you mean 'anything that gets me more power' then yes, they're consistent.

  • Tony||

    They're not going to suddenly become against criminal justice reform if Trump starts to champion it. They will, believe it or not, give credit where it's due. I'm thinking of Maddow and Hayes and everyone on that channel pretty much.

    FOX on the other hand will, oh I dunno, go from the cable news of Christian values to saying how it's no big deal for a president to fuck a porn star extramaritally. And many millions of other examples.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Yes. That was the reaction to Kardashian.

  • Agammamon||

    Nah, they've just been against criminal justice reform since Clinton.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Can you blame Democrats? They have not controlled Congress for long since they got harder on crime in the 1990s.

    Maybe the Democrats will figure out that following the winds of change, that Republicans tend to do, is better than pushing change on an unaccepting voter base.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    MSNBC is fair? What a fucking joke. Only a member of the progtard hive mind believes stupid shit like that.

    Tony, you embarrass yourself saying things like that.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Tony:
    "If you ever watched progressive media..."

    Excuse me, but I think you meant to say that progressive media is a myth.

  • Zeb||

    It's always the Joos.

  • Citizen X||

    The bill in question, known as the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States or (STATES) act

    Damn, people, don't put the word that the acronym spells inside the acronym! Come on!

  • SoCal Deathmarch||

    Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting Sativa

    FIFY

  • Citizen X||

    Thank you.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I had to read that three times before my brain stopped reading "Saliva." Now I get it.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Gnu's Not UNIX.

  • ||

    Yeah, apparently X didn't get the appropriate number of beatings with the recursion stick in school.

  • Procyon Rotor||

    You mean the STICK? Stick for Training, Indoctrination, and Correction of Kids?

  • Eidde||

    Start Toking, Arrests To End Soon.

  • Eidde||

    Says Trump: Amnesty To Every Stoner

  • Eidde||

    Bipartisan Option to Negate Government Suppression

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    Guitar Rock Utilizing Nihilist Grunge Energy

  • Ecoli||

    The left is now endorsing states' rights? I thought that would cause the south to rise again, and install a slave in every upper middle class household?

  • Brandybuck||

    Do you not have your slave yet?

  • Juice||

    I guess Dems want to put y'all back in chains.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Either party is OK with it. The secret is that you have to call them either illegals or your children. It's all about the words.

  • ||

    I thought that would cause the south to rise again, and install a slave in every upper middle class household?

    The bakery, pizzeria, and coffee shop on every corner not close enough for ya?

  • Muzzled Woodchipper||

    I actually saw a guy yesterday comment that "jobs are the new slavery."

    Seriously.

  • General_Tso||

    This seems legit.

    Social security number and mother's maiden name? Sure

  • Ecoli||

    How do you square this new outlook on states' rights with the expansive interpretation of the commerce clause?

  • Zeb||

    Someone should ask Warren that question. Preferably after this bill passes.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Quick we only need a state to legalize opiate/opioid use to see this whole states' rights thing fall apart.

  • ||

    When I read 'would amend the Controlled Substances Act to make it inapplicable in those states, federal territories, and tribal lands' my mind almost exploded with thoughts of steroids, amphetamines, ketamine, GHB, etc.. Then I remembered that the amendment probably says something specific about being harmless, cannabis-based products, and/or when states' rights overrule fedral rights or something.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Non sequitur. This is the feds giving states permission to conduct commerce.

  • Brandybuck||

    Only Nixon could go to China. Only Trump can legalize pot.

    I hate Trump, but he demonstrates the lie that is the Democratic Party. Two highly popular Democrat presidents and they still couldn't manage to change the direction on the war on drugs, couldn't manage to even pardon one non-violent pot offender. But they did manage to give us crony healthcare. Sigh.

  • John C. Randolph||

    "Wouldn't", not "couldn't."

    -jcr

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The Democrats could have legalized weed when Obama was president and Democrats controlled the House and Senate.

    They didn't and now Trump will.

  • Z565||

    The Dems were afraid of losing elections because they did not want to be labeled as soft on crime. Thats what "only Nixion could go to China" means. It means Republicans would use talking to communists or drug legalization to win elections and Dems made the hard choice to stay conservative on drug reform so that they could make gains in other areas.

  • Bubba Jones||

    You mean they made the easy, self serving choice.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Damn Republicans! Always forcing us Democrats to do politics.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    "Thats what "only Nixion could go to China" means."

    No, it doesn't. It means that Nixon was the one they ultimately took seriously because he WAS tough. Like sending Captain Kirk to deal with the Klingons in Star Trek VI.

    There, I've straightened you out. Feel free to thank me for my generosity.

  • Curt||

    "The bill in question, known as the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States or (STATES) act"

    Can we please create a constitutional amendment that mandates automatic removal from office of any asshole who writes a bill with some stupid-ass backronym name?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Intentionally Manipulating Preliminary English Alphabetical Characters Hosting Meaningful Empirical Nuanced Terms

  • Citizen X||

    My hat is off to you, sir.

  • JWatts||

    Awesome!

  • General Skarr's Prize Petunias||

    Somebody watched a lot of KND.

  • SusanM||

    Always Writing Entertaining, Sarcastic Observations Meriting Enjoyment

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Soulmate!

  • Rich||

    "It's a first step, but it's a big first step," says Altieri. "It would essentially codify the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment [which forbids the Justice Department from spending money going after state-legal medical marijuana efforts] but extend that" to states that have legalized recreational pot.

    I keep hearing this "baby step" stuff, which apparently is just iterative bullshit to help keep the lawyers in business.

    If Trump/Warren/whoever really wants to make xir mark, xi could -- dare I say it? -- legalize it.

  • Jerryskids||

    If Matt Groening knows what he's talking about, President Lisa Simpson will legalize it when she succeeds President Trump.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    But only after Bart gets China to back off on demanding we repay our debt.

    "What happened to you China, you used to be cool."

  • Dillinger||

    Hey! China still cool! You pay later! Later!

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Their legislation would amend the Controlled Substances Act to make it inapplicable in those states, federal territories, and tribal lands that have passed some form of marijuana legalization.

    The way this reads it sounds like the bill would make the entire CSA inapplicable in states with medical or recreational pot. If so, I doubt that's what they intended. Hopefully no one will tell them, if that's the case.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    If lawmakers base their decisions on the facts, there is no reason they wouldn't happen

    I guess this bill is doomed then. When was the last time lawmakers based any decision on facts?

  • crufus||

    Was there some problem with just legalizing it and letting the states decide what they want to do?

  • Citizen X||

    Yes. It doesn't leave federal-level legislators and bureaucrats with enough stuff to look like they're doing.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Follow the money.

    The War on Drugs is a gold mine for corrupt officials from cops on the beat to big-city mayors. If it goes away, it's a massive financial hit to Democrats. That's why President Choom didn't do shit about this, even when the top petition on his web site was calling for re-scheduling. The motherfucker just snickered about it when a reporter asked if he was going to do anything about legalization.

    -jcr

  • Dillinger||

    Gracias, T.

  • Rebel Scum||

    Someone with an ass like a Kardashian needs to tell Trump to reschedule weed and/or support/sign legalization legislation.

  • Iheartskeet||

    That leaves Nikki Minaj, but I am not 100% sure she is a US citizen.

  • ||

    Expect every law enforcement coalition to come out against this because FYTW.

    Oh, and 'If you do this, we will have to retire all currently trained K-9 officers. You dont want us to kill the puppies, do you?"

  • Zeb||

    They'd have a great market for those dogs for people who keep forgetting where they hid their drugs.

  • Dillinger||

    Stashhounds. Now the business has a name too. America.

  • Eidde||

    And bouncers at clubs can use them

    "Rover, tell me if this guy is cool enough to get into the club" (on a signal, Rover growls and barks). "Sorry, buddy, our infallible uncoolness-detecting dog says you can't come in.

  • Tony||

    There's an old Vulcan proverb, only Trump could legalize weed, mostly because he wants to piss Jeff Sessions off.

  • My Dog Bites Better Than Yours||

    How is constitutional under the 14A, Equal Protection? An act, such as growing MJ in Tennessee will get you prosecuted by the Feds. Yet doing the same action is A-OK in California.

  • Muzzled Woodchipper||

    This is a very valid question. Your position would almost certainly prevail in SCOTUS. I mean, assuming the Nazgul followed the Constitution instead of trying mightily to circumvent it.

  • buybuydandavis||

    I doubt you win on an equal protection claim.

    I suspect there are other federal crimes that are dependent on state law status.

  • Robert||

    See 21st amendment for a prominent example—constitutionally mandated!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    With federal district courts, If there is not a federal law that applies, then state law applies.

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    Most libertarian-friendly president of my lifetime, which of course is making the heads of Welchie Boy and all his fellow leftards at Reason explode in an enraged fireball of cognitive dissonance.

  • Tony||

    A severely fucked up clock is right at an unpredictable frequency at random times of the day.

  • Oli||

    If you went through all of Stalin's and Hitler's speeches, I'm sure you'd find something to label them as champions of libertarianism.

    And less polemic: Let's judge Trump after the end of his term and see how libertarian, messianic, evil, authoritarian etc. he really is. Popper's definition of democracy is still one of the best.

  • Eidde||

    "Two stoners and a gourmet voting on where to go for dinner, leading to a diet of pizza and chips?"

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    I don't pay very close attention to speeches, but I do pay close attention to actions, and Trump is off to a rip-roaring start, cutting taxes, eliminating regulations, granting clemency to nonviolent drug offenders, renegotiating America out of the bad deals that tie our hands while others fuck us over, and appointing some of the best judges to the federal bench that have ever been appointed.

  • SIV||

    If only someone could have foreseen all this...

    I mean someone other than me

  • Iheartskeet||

    WCR agree. It all but defines the term "low bar", but Trump will on balance deserve this title, indeed already does.

  • buybuydandavis||

    This Libertarian Moment brought to you by Donald Trump and the deplorables who voted to elect him President.

  • Robert||

    What makes it "hedged"? The word "probably"?

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    The Dotard wanted to execute drug dealers a few months ago.

    He will fuck this up too.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    According to the media.

    Trump has been pro drug legalization forever.

  • jcbinok||

    FWIW, I believe that comment was in regards to Fentanyl or drugs that could cause death. Pot's death rate is near zero.

  • Eidde||

    Haven't you seen the documentary *Reefer Madness*?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    My understanding is that has been zero deaths related to Marijuana overdose because you cannot overdose on weed.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    You could theoretically. But in reality you would lose consciousness long before it would become lethal.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Let's hope this comes to fruition. It would be a step in the right direction.

  • tommhan||

    Long overdue.

  • Eidde||

    It's high time.

  • santamonica811||

    Heh

  • Rockabilly||

  • jcbinok||

    Why couldn't this all have happened 25 years ago when I was in college?

  • javabeast||

    So now when you all buy weed, a different group of gangsters get the money.

  • BillyG||

    Total legalization or nothing. This partial crap makes a mockery of law by making it so if its a Federal crime or not depends on which state you're in. Why is it those in one state can be prosecuted federally but not another? 14th amendment violation.

    And for the record, I consider the DEA unconstitutional to begin with.

  • tlapp||

    The conundrum that is Trump. Often says things that make any freedom loving Libertarian cringe yet has supported much less Federal govt power. He's mostly nominated judges that are libertarian minded and would likely rule against his own worst proposals

  • texexpatriate||

    Everyone is styling this as "the federalism bill." What a joke! There always have been two views of federalism. In one the federal government is subservient to the states in all matters except national security. In the other, which the GOP enacted by chicanery in 1868 in a 14th Amendment that could not be ratified properly, the states are subservient to the federal government in all matters. Since 1868 that has been the model in 99 percent of cases, and has been the the desire of both political parties---a national government ruling over states. So here we see a little bit of the original meaning of federalism being enacted, maybe, and everyone is jubilant. Pardon me for suspecting this is but one more of the 1 percent of cases where federalism is observed. Hypocrisy of the federal tyranny and those who write about it is rampant.

  • gordo53||

    Wouldn't it be easier to just remove it from the Schedule I drug list and/or repeal the prohibition? Instead we get a new law. Ugh.

  • ||

    The Controlled Substances Act is ALREADY invalid in states that legalize a particular intoxicant -- people forget (or weren't born yet and don't know) there was a MAJOR federal push to get states to enact anti-drug laws around the time the Controlled Substances Act was being considered and passed -- because without that state prohibition, the feds lacked the authority to prohibit those substances.

    The federal government has the same authority to prohibit marijuana that it has to prohibit alcohol. It has the same authority to prohibit alcohol today that it had in 1915 -- none whatsoever. It took a constitutional amendment to make federal alcohol prohibition legal, and that amendment was repealed.

    The feds do have the authority to interdict smuggling across national and state borders, which includes moving drugs from a place they are legal to a place they are not. Federal statutes do have supremacy over state statutes. But federal statutes do not and cannot have supremacy over the United States Constitution. And the US Constitution says that all of the authority to prohibit or legalize any intoxicating substance lies solely with the states and the people -- and aside from about 10 years early in the 20th century, it always has.

  • WillPaine||

    Well, clearly, and nicely said. Thank you; Gindjurra; you obviously love and know the law. It's a lot easier than most realize; lawyers, many, have tried to obfuscate the law. A clear and easy read of the Constitution and the BIll of Rights, with a little historical reading and the law becomes clear, and easy to understand. Keep on rocking in the free world

  • MoreFreedom||

    Maybe this will persuade some Reason authors, that Trump isn't such an anti-freedom guy. As someone who voted for Johnson, I've been rather pleased with Trump's deregulation via executive order (given as to how Congress is letting the executive branch write the laws). Trump is fighting Congress that doesn't want to change the status quo, doesn't want to cut spending, and doesn't want to deregulate. The RINOs that control the GOP certainly don't want to do anything, because they'd have to vote on what they promised voters, and likely show they don't support what they said they support. The Democrats are no better, serving their big money interests: lawyers, teachers unions, other unions, environmentalists, minorities desiring privileges, and illegals.

  • CDRSchafer||

    Trump has done an excellent job especially considering how Mrs. Clinton would be centralizing federal authority.

  • WillPaine||

    "The drug war was never about drugs. Blacks and the counterculture scared Nixon" H.R. Haldeman, Nixon's right hand man in a later interview

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    "WTF I hate the dangerous and addictive gateway drug marihuana now." --Democrats, soon.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online