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Where Do They Stand? Donald Trump

The former President Donald Trump has made his opinion on drug trafficking very clear in a
recent interview proposing a new plan to stop addiction.

His proposed solution is to make drug trafficking punishable by execution; a policy that would take the “War on Drugs” to new heights. He claimed that capital punishment is the only way to curb addiction, and even praised countries like Singapore and China for their use of this anti-drug policy.

On the other hand, in 2018 Trump signed a law that was meant to shorten long term federal sentences, allowing the sentence to be shortened from the statutory minimum in select cases. This law, known as the First Step Act, even allowed federal drug offenses from before the bill’s passing to apply for a resentencing. Trump has since changed his stance on criminal justice reform, with the mention of capital punishment ushering us into a new era of anti-drug sentiments.

Cannabis Policy Under the Trump Administration

Trump’s opinion on drug trafficking also includes a critical view on cannabis use as a whole, leading to the question; what would Trump’s reelection mean for the cannabis industry as a whole?

To understand the implications his reelection would have, it is important to first understand what his administration’s policy with regard to cannabis has been in the past. In 2016 when Trump was elected to office, he publicly stated that he preferred to leave marijuana legalization issues to the states, upholding the federal prohibition but showing some respect for the state powers, much like former President Obama.

Obama supported the division of responsibility between states and the federal government to keep cannabis markets in control when he enacted the 2013 Cole Memorandum. This kept federal powers from intervening in states that prevented the following: criminal involvement in the cannabis market, sale to underaged individuals, and illegal crossover into other states.

In 2018 during Trump’s presidency, his administration rescinded the Cole Memorandum, leading to worry of the federal government cracking down on legal markets. This action meant that U.S. attorneys would then have the power to determine how much the federal government can get involved with and crack down on state-legal cannabis markets.

To add to this, the Trump administration used federal cannabis law as a tool to deny and revoke citizenship to immigrants. They issued a policy guidance that blocks any immigrant from working in the cannabis industry or consuming the plant, lest they face legal consequences and a loss of citizenship.

These actions by the Trump administration point towards a “War on Drugs” mentality that is likely to continue should he be reelected.

The Trump administration was also responsible for enacting The Farm Bill, which was responsible for legalizing “hemp”. Under this bill, hemp is classified as cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC. This led to a period of expansion of the hemp-derived CBD market and has since led products like THC-A flower and delta-8 THC to become more popular.

Trump’s Silence Speaks Louder Than His Words

Trump has not openly shared his views on psychedelics and hasn’t publicly admitted to any desire to quell the psychedelic renaissance that has permeated through the last decade. During his time in office, research into the possible medical uses of psychedelics and research into the common forms continued without being slowed.

In fact, in 2017 the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation to MDMA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder after years of clinical research backing this application’s efficacy. This meant that the FDA recognized MDMA as a substance that shows significant potential for medical treatment.

A year later, psilocybin-assisted therapy was up for consideration and was accepted as having Breakthrough status for targeting treatment resistant depression. Soon after in 2019, a nasal spray derived from ketamine was approved for sale for treatment resistant depression as well.

Though these happened during Trump’s presidency, it is unclear whether or not Trump supported these progressions. At the very least it is clear that he is not actively targeting psychedelics and does not intend to make a war on psychedelics a part of his campaign.

What Does This Mean For A Potential Trump Future?

The Trump administration demonstrated that they have a harsh policy on drugs and have been active in changing the face of the cannabis industry. During Trump’s time in office, there was reform in the criminal justice system leading to the possibility of sentences less than the mandatory minimum, and The Farm Bill was passed leading to the legalization of industrial hemp.

In addition, the 2013 Cole Memorandum was rescinded, leaving less protection for the legal cannabis market from federal intervention, and policy guidance led to the pursuit of immigrants that use cannabis or work in the industry. While Trump’s views on psychedelics may not be apparent, it is apparent that he intends on waging a war on drugs and is willing to go even as far as capital punishment.

Stay tuned to Beard Bros Pharms for continuing coverage on all the 2024 presidential candidates and their respective positions on cannabis and psychedelics.

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Michael has a background in cannabis education and grew up in a family with roots in the industry. When he was Director of Events at Cannaclub UCLA he had the chance to learn from the industry and educate the student body on various aspects of the industry and the plant’s medical benefits.

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