States Fear What Trump Means For Legal Marijuana Laws

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Lawmakers in states that passed legalization laws on election day are fretting over what a Trump Administration means for their reforms.

California and Massachusetts are among four states that legalized recreational marijuana use through ballot votes Nov. 8. Medical marijuana reforms passed in an additional four states, but President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of Sen. Jeff Sessions to be his Attorney General is leaving legislators anxious. Sessions is a staunch opponent of marijuana reform and some activists worry his appointment would lead to further raids in states where marijuana is legal, reports The New York Times.

It remains unclear whether or not Trump will be adversarial against state marijuana laws, but he did promise to respect state law on the issue during the campaign.

“He could also use federal law enforcement power against operators and sue state regulators to block state systems,” John Hudak, with the Brookings Institution, told The New York Times. “The only person who can stop the attorney general is the president, and it is unclear whether Trump will direct or delegate drug policy.”

The ballot victories mark a major turning point for marijuana reform activists, who won victories in Republican states. Following the results of the election, roughly 20 percent of Americans will have access to legal marijuana. Roughly 60 percent of Americans now support legalization of marijuana. Advocates are circulating a petition addressed to Trump, warning him of the potential political backlash that could result if he changes his position.

“I think it would be extremely unpopular,” Bill Downing, a Massachusetts marijuana activist, told Mass Live. “The states have been allowed to conduct this experiment, and the citizens of the states have made their opinions clear through the ballot box.”

Lawmakers have failed to spread the message to the public, especially youth, that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” Sessions said in April.

“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger,” Sessions added.

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