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By Steve Birr
The Trump administration is threatening to interfere with state pot laws and it could cost the marijuana industry hundreds of thousands of jobs.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comments teasing a crackdown on state pot laws Thursday are continuing to stir anxiety among those financially dependent on legal sales. A report released in February by New Frontier Data projects that an unimpeded marijuana industry will create more than 250,000 jobs by 2020. The booming projections for growth stand in stark contrast to manufacturing jobs, which are expected to crater by more than 800,000 by 2024, reports ABC 7 Denver.
Aside from jeopardizing new jobs, a crackdown on lawful weed laws will cause legal confusion in states actively working to implement legalization laws approved by voters. In states where legal weed markets are already thriving like Colorado, tougher federal enforcement could risk 20,000 jobs and $3 billion in economic activity.
“To have Mr. Spicer say in one sentence that they’re a state’s rights administration and in the very next sentence say they’re going to crack down…it just defies logic,” said Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, according to Bloomberg.
Spicer fielded questions on President Donald Trump’s stance on marijuana legalization during a press conference Thursday, saying the Department of Justice is likely going to increase enforcement efforts of federal law. Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level and is lumped into the same designation category as heroin. Spicer differentiated between medical and recreational marijuana, signaling the focus will be on the latter. (RELATED: Critics Blast White House For Tying Opioid Epidemic To Legal Weed)
Spicer provoked more criticism after tying the national opioid epidemic to recreational marijuana legalization, despite research showing marijuana can aid opioid addiction and serve as a safer, alternative painkiller. He claimed “encouraging people” to use marijuana would be irresponsible in light of the high rates of heroin and prescription painkiller addiction.
The statements from Spicer are adding to fears within the industry over the future of legal weed across the country, specifically now that Jeff Sessions is attorney general. Sessions is a staunched opponent of marijuana legalization but has been very vague on the subject since his confirmation.
“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,” Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “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.”
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