In the scheme of national politics, it's almost as if everything is connected; as if actions, decisions, and—yes—even words matter. It's almost as if there are consequences, even on the presidential level.
Earlier this month, when discussing immigrant protections from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries (as part of a bipartisan deal) President Trump let his true feelings be known. "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" he asked, according to several people in attendance, as reported by the Washington Post.
President Trump has since come under fire from media and outraged constituents alike, being accused of ignorance, racism, and various degrees of incompetence. The consequences of Trump's comments have been widespread; from world leaders to policy makers to Twitter users, the impact of the infamous "shithole" comment has been felt.
People don't want to visit. Leaders of said "shithole" countries don't want to deal with the current administration. There's a media feud going back and forth between admiration and anguish, tackling topics of political correctness and nationalism. The dumpster fire has been lit.
Now, even the medical marijuana industry has felt the effects of Trump's mouthiness.
Essentially, Trump's comments messed up any chances for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) deal, which has been the focus of much national attention lately. Medical marijuana protections are a subcategory of said deal. With his comments, the DACA deal was blown up.
Remember the government shutdown? Everything comes full circle.
The specific part of the DACA deal involving MMJ is the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which "prevents the Justice Department from prosecuting patients and caregivers in states that have legalized medical marijuana." Since the amendment is a spending measure instead of a law, it has to be voted on annually. The measure prevents the Justice Department from allocating funds to MMJ prosecutions, and this amendment has been protected for four years now.
The budget ran out at the same time as the DACA deal, which proved to be problematic for dreamers and medical marijuana activists alike. Since congressional leaders couldn't come to an agreement, the budget did not pass. Thus, the government shut down.
Much of this ongoing disagreement likely came from Democratic dissent—Republicans needed at least nine senate democrat representatives to vote in favor of the funding measure; after Trump's "shithole" comment, many Democrats were unwilling to move toward consensus.
Part of the conversation regarding the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment is its lack of permanency. Additionally, it does not ensure complete legalization of medical marijuana, it only protects users from federal prosecution via budget. The amendment will likely change form in the upcoming years, as many pro-legalization enthusiasts on both sides of the aisle gain momentum and include recreational marijuana protections as well, hopefully modeled after the Cole Memo.
Still in Session
While much of the attention has been on Trump and his comments, it's important to note the ongoing crackdown promises made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions has made it abundantly clear that he will not be slowing his anti-marijuana crusade any time soon, even in states that have legalized cannabis.
While Trump's effect involves more trickle-down consequences, Sessions' is very much intentional. Despite Trump's claims during his campaign that his focus would not be on marijuana opposition, Sessions has been actively reaching out to congress, asking for permission to act against cannabis users.
Both, however, are problematic for those waiting, wishing, and hoping for an America free of marijuana-related criminalization. For the time being, medical marijuana is safe. Keep an eye out, though, for updates on national news.