This could be huge!
On the other hand, it might not amount to a hill of beans.
Then again, it might be really huge, but not in a good way.
And yet… And yet…
Within minutes of Trump taking the oath of office on Friday, Jan. 21, 2017, the new administration started remodeling the White House website by purging the Obama administration’s policy statements.
CBS News swiftly reported that first to go were “all references to Global Warming and Climate Change”, that the LGBT rights page disappeared, and, mirabile dictu, that the link to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (aka the office of the Drug Czar) had vanished.
The deleted page had stated that the President (Obama) “steadfastly opposes legalization of marijuana and other drugs because legalization would increase the availability and use of illicit drugs, and pose significant health and safety risks to all Americans, particularly young people.”
That set off speculation as to whether or not Trump was intending to take a different approach to marijuana; the assumption was that the removal of the global warming references may have been indicative of the administration’s near-certain change of approach to climate change, so maybe the same was true of marijuana.
If true, that would indeed have been huge.
Alas, reports of the demise of the Drug Czar’s pages were somewhat exaggerated.
The pages were not deep sixed, merely 86’ed.
It turns out the website’s Obama Administration content wasn’t made to disappear from the White House website like the Cheshire Cat, but merely moved to an archiving site — from WhiteHouse.gov to ObamaWhiteHouse.gov.
By Sunday, new Trump Administration content had started to appear on WhiteHouse.gov, including sections titled, “America First Energy Plan,” “America First Foreign Policy,” “Bringing Back Jobs and Growth,” “Making Our Military Strong Again,” “Standing up for our Law Enforcement Community” and “Trade Deals working for all Americans.”
Happily, the Office of National Drug Control Policy page remained deleted. And the word “marijuana” failed to appear in any of the six policy statements.
However, the word “drug” did appear. Once. And it appeared in a way that could be huge in a bad way.
The Standing up for Our Law Enforcement Community contained the following paragraph (emphasis added):
“President Trump is committed to building a border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities. He is dedicated to enforcing our border laws, ending sanctuary cities, and stemming the tide of lawlessness associated with illegal immigration.”
The offending clause in the paragraph can be read in a number of ways.
Worst case scenario: The administration intends to crank up the war on drugs including a new war on marijuana, public opinion be damned.
Better case scenario: The promise “to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities” is made in the context of securing the border. That may mean that anti-drug efforts will be focused on stopping smuggling at the border and not on hassling states that have legalized.
Much better case scenario: The phrase “and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities” is a placeholder for a drug policy that hasn’t yet been decided upon. Trump has used the phrase in previous speeches but never elaborated on it. And there is some evidence to indicate that Trump is willing to leave the status quo ante between the feds and the legalizing states that was spelled out in the “Cole Memo” (written by Deputy Attorney General James Cole) in place: Federal anti-pot law won’t be enforced in states that legalized so long as growers, vendors, and users follow their states’ laws.
The evidence is that a) Trump said as much during the campaign, and b) Chuck Rosenberg, who has been acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) since May 2013, has agreed to stay on. Rosenberg has been cool with operating under the Cole Memo, so leaving him in place could be a sign that the new administration isn’t about to come down with a case of latter day reefer madness.
Make America Great Again scenario: Maybe we’re reading too much into this. When Trump says he’s “committed to building a border wall… to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities” maybe he’s just advocating an America First Marijuana Policy. So calm down, take a deep breath, inhale, and make America great again.