Californians may have voted overwhelmingly on Nov. 8 to legalize marijuana, but Americans also elected Donald Trump, whose position on legalization has been a bit — hazy. That’s a potential problem because marijuana is regulated under federal law, giving Trump and his administration veto power over whether California and the seven other states that have voted to legalize cannabis can really do so.
So where does the president-elect stand on pot? He has said he supports individuals’ right to use medical marijuana “100%,” which is good news for the 29 states that allow medicinal use of pot. As for adult recreational use, which Californians approved through Proposition 64, it’s hard to say what he believes because his statements have been all over the map, shifting from audience to audience.
In a 1990 speech in South Florida, where drug cartels had waged a bloody fight in the 1980s, Trump said that the nation’s war on drugs had been a failure; it would be better, he said, to legalize and tax drugs and spend the money on drug prevention. (Sounds a bit like The Times’ endorsement of Proposition 64.) But that was 26 years ago. During his presidential run, Trump told Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, a staunch prohibitionist, that he was concerned Colorado’s decision to legalize recreational use was causing “a lot of problems out there.” Then, while campaigning in Nevada (where voters last month passed a ballot measure to allow adult use of marijuana), Trump said legalization should be decided by the states.
If that last statement gave a glimmer of hope to advocates of legalization, Trump undermined it with his nominee for attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a hard-line opponent of reforming marijuana laws.
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