Trump On NFL Marijuana Punishments

By Tom Angell | February 06, 2017

Cannabis industry insiders and legalization advocates are waiting with bated breath to find out what the Trump administration’s response to state marijuana laws will be.

Now we can add another item to the list of cannabis issues that the new president is still formulating his thinking on: Marijuana use by professional football players.

In an interview just before the Super Bowl kickoff, President Trump was asked about the NFL Players Association’s pending push to get the league to lessen penalties for cannabis.

“Well, I have no opinion on it. They’re going to have to take a look at that,” the president told Westwood One’s Jim Gray. “They’re going to talk with the league, they’re going to be talking to, obviously, government officials wherever it may be.”

Trump alluded that he may be preparing to weigh in on cannabis policy issues more broadly soon, however, saying, “And when it comes up to the level of the presidency I’ll have an opinion.”

During the course of the presidential campaign Trump repeatedly pledged to respect local marijuana laws even though he personally feels that states enacting legalization are facing some problems. With regard to medical use, Trump says he supports it “100 percent” and even knows people close to him who benefit from it.

But after being elected Trump selected U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a longtime critic of marijuana policy reform, as his attorney general. Sessions has criticized the Obama administration’s approach of generally letting states implement their own cannabis laws largely without federal interference, and said last year that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Since being nominated to head the Justice Department, however, Sessions has been much more guarded in response to questions about prohibition enforcement, even calling the Obama guidelines for how states can avoid federal actions “valuable.”

A number of other incoming Trump administration officials have records that are much more friendly to marijuana law reform, but broad decisions about federal enforcement in legal states would be made largely at the Justice Department in consultation with the White House.

A U.S. Senate vote to confirm Sessions as attorney general could come this week, and we might hear more about the administration’s approach to local marijuana reforms shortly thereafter.

In the meantime, we’ll have to wait to find out what the 45th president of the United States thinks about cannabis in the NFL.

Tom Angell

Tom Angell is a senior political correspondent for MassRoots. A 15-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit Marijuana Majority and is editor of the daily Marijuana Moment newsletter.

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