White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer cited “states’ rights” on Tuesday in defending the Trump administration’s decision to end the Obama administration’s federal protections for transgender students.
“The president has maintained for a long time that this is a states’ rights issue and not one for the federal government,” he said. “All you have to do is look at what the president’s view has been for a long time that this is not something that the federal government should be involved in. This is a states’ rights issue.”
But on Thursday, asked about federal marijuana enforcement, it was like the states had no rights at all. Arkansas-based reporter Roby Brock asked Spicer about the administration’s posture towards Arkansas’s new medical marijuana law.
Spicer suggested that the Trump administration would respect state laws related to medical marijuana — but not offer the same respect for recreational marijuana.
Watch the contrast:
“There are two distinct issues here. Medical marijuana and recreational marijuana,” Spicer said. “Medical marijuana, I’ve said before that the president understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases and the comfort that some of these drugs including medical marijuana can bring to them.”
But Spicer compared recreational marijuana use to deadly opioid addictions. “I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country the last thing that we should doing is encouraging people, there’s still a federal law that we need to abide by in terms of … when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.”
Shannon Pettypiece of Bloomberg followed up by asking if the federal government would take action against recreational marijuana.
“I think that’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it. Because again there’s a big difference between the medical use, which Congress has through an appropriations rider in 2014 made very clear what the intent, what their intent was in terms of how the Department of Justice would handle that issue,” he replied, referring to a 2014 law that directed the federal government to respect state medical marijuana laws. “That’s very different than the recreational use which is something the Department of Justice I think will be further looking into.”