It’s a bummer of a day for potheads.
The Drug Enforcement Administration today declined again to loosen restrictions on marijuana even though pot is now legal in four states and the District of Columbia and medical use is permitted in an additional 22.
The disconnect between Washington and the states will continue to complicate matters for the growing marijuana industry, frustrate those who see weed as a tax-revenue generator, vex law enforcement officials, disappoint Americans who consider pot no more harmful than alcohol and leave libertarians shaking their heads.
A year ago, the purple haze around marijuana seemed to be clearing and legalization had more than one champion. Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian from Kentucky, favored legalization, and on the Democratic side, the insurgent candidate Bernie Sanders made ending restrictions on marijuana possession a crowd-pleasing line for his sometimes smoky rallies.
But Paul dropped out early, and Sanders was vanquished by Hillary Clinton. However, Sanders’ supporters did manage to insert in the platform that emerged from the Democratic convention a call for a “pathway” to legalization.
That was a victory for the “Bernie bros,” but it could go nowhere even if Clinton is elected.
The former secretary of state has spoken in favor of medical marijuana but has taken a wait-and-see approach on how legalization works in states that have lifted restrictions on possession.
The Republican Party platform doesn’t sanction medical marijuana use, but Donald Trump has said he is behind it 100 percent. In the past, he has spoke about legalizing pot, though his current position seems to be that the states should decide.
The Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group, gives Trump a C+ grade, and inexplicably gives Clinton a B+. Inexplicable, because Trump has talked about ending what he has called a failed and costly war on drugs.
On the other hand, the cannabis website Merry Jane calls Trump the best option “if you want marijuana legalized.”
Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, a former Governor of New Mexico, freely admits to smoking marijuana and backs legalization. But the latest Real Clear Politics average shows Johnson polling just 9 percent in a four-way race, with Clinton at 43.6 percent, Trump at 36.4 percent and Jill Stein of the Green Party at 3.8 percent. So Johnson’s chance of putting his feet up on the desk of the Oval Office and lighting up are slim to none.
Where would Trump really come down?
In an interview at the GOP convention, controversial political operative Roger Stone said libertarians should vote for Trump because of his “enormous skepticism about the war on drugs.”