I WROTE A JOKE to make you feel better.
Q: What’s the difference between Trump and cancer? A: You stand a chance of surviving cancer.
Ha, ha! No, but seriously, we are all so sadly fucked.
Let’s look at President Trump, and what this means through canna-tinted glasses. (That last sentence is proof that cannabis helps treat nausea, because typing “President Trump” nearly made me throw up.)
This year, nine states had medical-or recreational-use initiatives on the ballot. Of those, four states passed recreational use: California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Three more—Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota—passed medical cannabis programs. This is great news for the West Coast, as we have become a three-state juggernaut of recreational cannabis that stretches from Canada to Mexico. California alone is predicted to generate sales that will be larger than all other states with recreational programs combined. And it’s great for the states that passed medical cannabis programs—especially if your nana has decamped for Miami (where they must not have good cell service, because she hasn’t gotten a call from you in months).
But before you spark up that victory joint, there are a few things to consider.
Cannabis is a Schedule 1 “drug” that, in the eyes of the Feds, is on par with heroin, and has no medical value. This scheduling issue is the bane of the cannabis industry’s existence. It will now be next to impossible to get cannabis rescheduled, much less de-scheduled, which is the only thing we should be working toward.
280E is going to continue. That’s the arcane law from the 1980s that doesn’t allow canna businesses any tax deductions or credits, leaving most with an effective tax rate of 80 percent or higher. It’s also a major roadblock to allow the cannabis industry access to banking services.
It’s all about the Cole Memorandum. The only reason states are allowed to have recreational cannabis programs is because of a memo issued August 2013 by the Justice Department, which says in part that as long as states adhere to eight basics—such as not allowing cannabis to leave the state where it was produced, that it be kept away from children, and that gangs and criminal enterprises are not allowed to participate or profit, along with a few other common-sense and easy-to-adhere-to guidelines—the Feds won’t shut them down.
Do you think Trump’s brain trust is going to be down with letting something written by a hire of his “Kenyan” predecessor stand? Because I don’t.
In 1990, Trump said he was in favor of legalizing all drugs. But in February of this year, he told Bill O’Reilly he opposes legalizing recreational cannabis. His McDonald’s-fetching li’l buddy, Chris Christie, has said that “all medical cannabis programs are a front,” and that he’s in favor of shutting down all recreational cannabis programs. When day-walking vampire Rudy Giuliani was asked about medical marijuana, he said he’s “opposed to legalization of marijuana of any sort, I think it would be a mistake.” And evil personified Newt Gingrich once introduced a bill called the Drug Importer Death Penalty Act, which would have implemented a death sentence for those importing certain amounts of cannabis.
All of these people have been mentioned as potential members of Trump’s cabinet.
And while some believe that, as a quote-unquote businessman, Trump should easily see the benefit of cannabis and its tax revenues, there’s more money to be made enforcing the prosecution and incarceration of users. It’s especially helpful for the government if they are people of color, who also may be rapists, if I can keep all of Trump’s racist rhetoric straight.
So with this election I celebrate the end of cannabis prohibition in seven states. Greater access is, well... great. But I weep both literally and figuratively for the hate I see emerging, for the loss of civil liberties, for the rightfully frightened LGBTQ, Muslim, and immigrant communities, for an imminent rollback of reproductive rights, and for those sick and dying whose safe access to beneficial cannabis may be ending. Prepare to protect both the plant and people, as we will all soon be under attack.