Trump stated he supported medical cannabis and a states rights approach to managing cannabis policy during his campaign. His new budget proves this was not true.
In his 2021 federal budget proposal, Trump has called for ending existing federal protections. These protections limit the federal government from interfering in the state-sanctioned regulation of medical cannabis. This will put thousands of medical cannabis providers and the millions of patients who rely on them at risk for criminal prosecution.
What does this mean?
The rider has been renewed in appropriations legislation every year since 2014. It stipulates the Justice Department can’t use its funds to prevent states or territories “from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” Trump’s budget deletes this rider.
This isn’t the first time that the administration has requested that the rider be stricken. Trump’s last two budgets omitted the medical cannabis protections language and asked for the policy to be removed. In all cases, Congress ignored those requests and renewed the protections in spending bills.
When Trump signed large-scale spending legislation in December, he attached a statement that said he is empowered to ignore the congressionally approved medical cannabis rider. He stated that the administration “will treat this provision consistent with the President’s constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.”
How will this affect the industry?
No one can know for sure what this means for the industry, but it seems to bode ill. One thing we can assume is that if the Department of Justice starts prosecuting state legal and compliant medical cannabis businesses and patients then things are bound to get messy.