- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2017

In a departure from the Obama administration’s policies, the White House said Thursday that the Trump administration is likely to crack down on recreational marijuana use.

“I do think you’ll see greater enforcement,” said White House press secretary Sean Spicer. “The Department of Justice, I think, will be further looking into [the issue]. I believe they are going to continue to enforce the laws on the books with respect to recreational marijuana.”

He drew a distinction between marijuana use for medical purposes and compared recreational marijuana loosely with the opioid epidemic.

“When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people,” Mr. Spicer said.

Advocates of recreational marijuana reacted quickly to his comments.

“If the administration is looking for ways to become less popular, cracking down on voter-approved marijuana laws would be a great way to do it,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority.

Under President Obama, the Justice Department instructed federal prosecutors in 2013 to take a hands-off approach to recreational and medical marijuana in states that had legalized it.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. At least 18 other states have laws legalizing marijuana in some form, and more plan to introduce proposals this year.

“On the campaign trail, President Trump clearly and repeatedly pledged that he would leave decisions on cannabis policy to the states. With a clear and growing majority of the country now supporting legalization, reneging on his promises would be a political disaster and huge distraction from the rest of the president’s agenda,” Mr. Angell said.

More than 70 percent of Americans voters say they would oppose the enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that have taken action to legalize medical or recreational use of the drug, according to a Quinnipiac University released Thursday.

Of the 71 percent who said they would oppose federal enforcement over states’ laws on marijuana, Democrats were more likely to be opposed to enforcement of federal law over local laws on the issue, with 80 percent in opposition. But a majority of Republicans, 55 percent, were also opposed.

The poll also found a high level of support for marijuana legalization, with 59 percent of American voters saying recreational use of the drug should be made legal in the U.S. In the survey, 39 percent of voters did not support legalization.

Support was far greater for use of medical marijuana, with 93 percent of voters saying the drug should be made legal for medicinal purposes.

“Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long experiment with marijuana prohibition and replacing it with regulation,” said Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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