President Trump’s budget proposal could have significant implications for cannabis legalization. With no clear indication yet of how his administration will approach the topic, Trump’s budget could be the newest piece in the ongoing legalization puzzle.
A Lot Of Question Marks
Ever since Trump won the election, there have been questions about how he’ll deal with cannabis legalization.
During his presidential campaign, Trump said cannabis was “fine for medicinal purposes.” But last week, Trump’s new Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke out against medical cannabis. He said that it “had been hyped, maybe too much.”
His remarks have left many wondering where the Trump Administration stands when it comes to medical marijuana. The picture is just as unclear when it comes to recreational cannabis.
Trump has been fairly evasive on the question. In February, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said there may be “greater enforcement” of anti-cannabis laws. He went on to compare recreational weed use to opioid addiction.
Taking all this together, it’s unclear where things are headed. Some members of the administration seem open to medical cannabis. Others do not. So far, there hasn’t been any real support of recreational use.
What Trump’s Budget Could Do For Weed
With no clear answers or commitments, many are looking for whatever clues or hints they can find. The latest could be Trump’s budget proposal.
The proposal has become increasingly controversial. It calls for an unprecedented $52 billion increase to the Defense Budget. Similarly, the Department of Homeland Security would also receive significant increases.
At the same time, however, Trump’s budget calls for dramatic slashes to a wide number of social services, education, public goods, and regulatory agencies.
So what does all this have to do with cannabis? Well, nothing. At least not on the surface. But if you dig a little deeper and connect some of the dots, there could be some important implications.
Essentially, his budget would drastically cut back the federal funding available for programs that many people around the country depend on.
If states want to keep any of those programs afloat, they may be forced to find new revenue streams.
That’s where cannabis comes in. Legalizing weed could be one powerful way for state and local governments to pick up additional funds. Many of those funds could be used on the same social and public services Trump wants to slash.
A Case Study
Colorado is a great example of what this might look like. The state voted to legalize recreational cannabis in 2012, and since then, the state has seen some serious cannabis sales.
In 2015, there were almost $1 billion worth of weed sales. That equates to around $135 million in taxes.
The numbers were even higher in 2016. By the end of October, weed sales accounted for more than $1.1 billion. The state collected over $150 million in taxes.
Colorado uses all that tax money for a number of different projects. One of the biggest is building and repairing schools. It’s also used to fund drug addiction programs, and many other underfunded social programs.
A lot of the money is also given to local governments. At that level, cannabis taxes have been used to combat homelessness and to address other issues.
If we continue with the idea that Trump’s cutbacks could force states to look for new sources of funding, then Colorado could be an encouraging case study.
There, state and local governments have had success raising taxes from cannabis sales. And a large portion of those funds are directed to the kind of programs and agencies most at risk in Trump’s budget proposal.
The Final Hit
This entire situation is very speculative, but we think it’s optimistic.
Even if something similar to this were to eventually unfold, it still wouldn’t do anything about federal cannabis laws. And since the White House has already hinted at a possible crackdown on weed, this could be a huge problem.
What we really need is a change in federal laws. So far, Trump’s administration doesn’t seem to be moving that way.