White House spokesman Sean Spicer expects "greater enforcement" of federal drug laws against recreational marijuana, linking legal marijuana use and opioid abuse in a daily press briefing (video below).
Spicer explained during the briefing on Feb. 23 that President Donald Trump does not oppose medical marijuana, but that medical marijuana is "very different than recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice will be further looking into."
"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," Spicer added.
Spicer's statements suggest a significant policy shift for President Trump's administration, which has been strongly in favor of states' rights. Just a day earlier, the administration rolled back federal guidelines that had allowed transgender students to use the bathroom that matched their identity, calling the matter a states' rights issue. During his campaign, Trump maintained that recreational marijuana was a states' rights issue.
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Supporters of the shift like Kevin Sabet, head of the anti-marijuana group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, say there's a line to be drawn when it comes to states' rights.
"The current situation is unsustainable. This isn't an issue about states' rights, it's an issue of public health and safety for communities," Sabet said in a statement.
A new study from the American Journal of Public Health actually found "a reduction in opioid positivity" in states with legal recreational marijuana.
Washington state's government is preparing to fight back against a crackdown. The state's Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee have promised to defend their state's legal recreational marijuana laws against the federal government, reported The Seattle Times.
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"When he talks about 'greater enforcement,' I take that seriously," said Ferguson, whose legal team has already defeated President Trump's lawyers twice in federal court over the travel ban.
Mark Bolton, marijuana adviser for the governor in Colorado, addressed Colorado's plans in a statement reported by KDVR: "It would be premature to speculate on what the administration may or may not do. We have worked with the Department of Justice since legalization to develop a framework that respects voters and promotes public safety."