President Donald Trump’s administration will work to relax federal marijuana laws and regulations after the midterms, according to one of his staunchest Republican defenders in the House.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California told Fox Business on Thursday he has worked to secure a “solid commitment” from administration officials to legalize medical marijuana across the federal level and leave recreational use of the drug up to the states.
“I have been talking to people inside the White House who know and inside the president’s entourage... I have talked to them at length. I have been reassured that the president intends on keeping his campaign promise,” Rohrabacher said.
Trump had signaled on at least three separate occasions during the 2016 presidential campaign that he would leave recreational marijuana laws up to the states and that he could favor opening up medical marijuana usage at the federal level.
“I think it certainly has to be a state — I have not smoked it — it’s got to be a state decision,” Trump told WWJ Newsradio 950 in Michigan in March 2016.
“I do like it, you know, from a medical standpoint … it does do pretty good things. But from the other standpoint, I think that it should be up to the states,” he said.
But the new administration and Justice Department masthead, under the stewardship of marijuana hardliner Jeff Sessions, appeared to quickly reverse course once they arrived at the Oval Office last winter.
“There is still a federal law we need to abide by in terms of when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature,” former White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Feb. 23 last year. “I do believe that you'll see greater enforcement.”
Rohrabacher’s comments Thursday highlight a key issue in California’s 48th District, where the 15-term GOP incumbent and former Reagan speechwriter is facing his toughest test for re-election yet against Democrat Harley Rouda.
Hillary Clinton carried the district over Trump by 2 points in 2016.