White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday that he thought the Department of Justice could pursue “greater enforcement” of federal laws outlawing recreational marijuana.
Spicer had earlier specified during a press briefing that the Trump administration saw a “big difference” between recreational and medical marijuana. Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana.
“I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing that we should be doing is encouraging people – there’s still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature,” Spicer said.
One reporter followed up by asking if the Trump administration would “take some sort of action” with regard to recreational marijuana in states where it is legal.
“I think that’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it,” Spicer said. “Because again, there’s a big difference between the medical use, which Congress has, through an appropriations rider in 2014, made very clear what there was in terms of how the Department of Justice would handle that issue. That’s very different than recreational use, which is something I think the Department of Justice will be further looking into.”
“They are going to continue to enforce the laws on the books when it comes to recreational marijuana,” he said later, referring to the Department of Justice.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is notoriously conservative in his beliefs about marijuana. While he said during his confirmation hearing that the enforcement of federal marijuana laws was “a problem of resources for the federal government,” he also said he intended to enforce federal law.
“It is not so much the attorney general’s job to decide what laws to enforce,” he said. “We should do our job and enforce laws effectively as we are able.”
Sessions once infamously joked – as he described the remark later – that he thought the KKK was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.”