The White House is Preparing to Wage War on Weed

Earlier this summer, Donald Trump indicated that he would probably support legislation that would allow states to legalize the use of marijuana without federal interference. That’s what makes this report from Dominic Holden pretty confusing.

The White House has secretly amassed a committee of federal agencies from across the government to combat public support for marijuana and cast state legalization measures in a negative light, while attempting to portray the drug as a national threat, according to interviews with agency staff and documents obtained by BuzzFeed News.

The Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee, as it’s named in White House memos and emails, instructed 14 federal agencies and the Drug Enforcement Administration this month to submit “data demonstrating the most significant negative trends” about marijuana and the “threats” it poses to the country.

In an ironic twist, the committee complained in one memo that the narrative around marijuana is unfairly biased in favor of the drug. But rather than seek objective information, the committee’s records show it is asking officials only to portray marijuana in a negative light, regardless of what the data show.

This is a pretty far-reaching effort that includes representatives from the departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, State, Defense, Education, Transportation and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency. Apparently all of those departments have been asked to submit two-page, bulleted fact sheets that identify marijuana threats and issues with legalization initiatives. The committee’s reports on all of that will be used to brief Trump “on marijuana threats.”

Holden goes on to report that apparently this initiative was meant to be kept quiet because notes from a meeting of the committee say that they were “predecisional and require a close hold.”

It’s hard to know what is going on here. But in keeping with most everything we see from this administration, it’s clear that there is no interest in gathering scientific data or facts.

None of the documents indicate that officials are seeking data that show marijuana consumption or legalization laws, which have been approved in eight states, serve any public benefit or do a better job of reducing drug abuse.

It’s clear that Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be interested in something like this. But I don’t think he has the muscle right now to pull off something this far-reaching in terms of inter-departmental cooperation. I think the most likely culprit would be someone like Chief of Staff John Kelly. My speculation would be that he didn’t like the more libertarian approach Trump seemed ready to embrace and wants to fill the president’s head with a lot of propaganda.

Regardless of who’s behind it, prepare yourself for a deluge of lies coming soon to a right wing news outlet near you about “the marijuana threat.”

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.