Reports that President Donald Trump now supports state-level marijuana regulation have primed him for an easy bipartisan win, which may also afford him a lane for further victories down the line.
Senator Cory Gardner (R., Colo.), who has been blocking several of Mr. Trump’s Justice Department nominees after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an earlier Justice Department memo that protected marijuana operations in states like Colorado from federal law enforcement, has announced that he will end his blockade. He says that President Trump promised him “that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that Mr. Gardner’s statement is “accurate.”
Mr. Trump’s decision to put the fate of legal marijuana in the hands of each individual state will yield him two victories.
The first, and most obvious, is that he has opened the door for his appointees to the Justice Department, thereby affecting greater movement on more pertinent and threatening issues than marijuana. Problems such as sex trafficking and the shipping of fentanyl through the U.S. Postal Service need more hands and legal minds.
The second victory is more philosophical: Mr. Trump’s embrace of state-level regulations is an important reminder that the federal bureaucracy of the United States has too frequently overreached and bullied the states. There is nothing that makes smoking or not smoking marijuana an inherently federal issue.
Smoking marijuana can be a crippling addiction, like drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. There are inherent risks when partaking of it. But it should be up to the citizens of a given state to decide if they would like to legalize this substance or not.
In states afflicted by the opioid crisis, the ability to make this choice could be particularly important. During a recent visit with The Blade’s editorial board, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said that marijuana laced with the deadly opiate fentanyl could be on the rise. While others have disputed the validity of this claim, legal marijuana could settle the concern for all. Legal cannabis would be regulated by the state, underage people would be prohibited from purchasing it, and the state would have a new economic industry.
Of course, each state should also have the option to not legalize marijuana. There are justifiable concerns about its use, particularly by young people, and it is the right of any state to decline to legalize it.
But Mr. Trump’s decision to respect the ability of American citizens to make their own choices is a win for him and the foundational values of liberty and privacy.
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