The Trump Administration is batting for stricter enforcement for federal laws against recreational marijuana. This could potentially create a turf war between states that legalized this use and the Federal government on which entity has ultimate control.
"I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it," said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, on Feb. 23. "Because again, there’s a big difference between the medical use which Congress has, through an appropriations rider in 2014, made very clear what their intent was in terms of how the Department of Justice would handle that issue. That’s very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice I think will be further looking into,"
This adds to the confusion about the Trump administration's actual stance on regulation of recreational marijuana. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is known for his hard-line stance objections to marijuana ("good people don't smoke marijuana"), but the President himself has flip-flopped. Trump called recreational marijuana 'bad', while supporting medical marijuana at the CPAC in June 2015. A few months later, he softened his stance and relegated the issue to the states.
"In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state," he said according to the Washington Post in October 2015.
Under the Obama administration Attorney General James Cole, in what is now referred to the Cole Memo, gave guidance on the government's priorities on marijuana enforcement in 2013 . The memo while laying out that no state law could come in way of federal enforcement also suggested that states could play a greater role in enforcement.
"In jurisdictions that have enacted laws legalizing marijuana in some form and that have also implemented strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession of marijuana, conduct in compliance with those laws and regulations is less likely to threaten the federal priorities set forth above," the memo said.
Those in favor of legalization of weed are jumping at this chance to decry the federal governments' attempt to step on state laws.
“The vast majority of Americans agree that the federal government has no business interfering in state marijuana laws. 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," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project in a statement.
Currently 8 states and Washington D.C. have legalized weed for recreational purposes, while 28 more states permit medical marijuana only. This map shows where they are.