Spicer: States will likely see 'greater enforcement' of federal law against rec marijuana

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said states can expect to see a "greater enforcement" of federal law against marijuana use on a state level.

Spicer was asked by a reporter about the enforcement of federal law on states that have legalized medical marijuana.

"Medical marijuana, the president understands the pain and suffering that many people go through ... and the comfort that some of these drugs can provide to them," Spicer said. "There's a big difference between that and recreational marijuana. When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming around so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people ... there's still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana."

While Spicer said that the president supports medical marijuana use, he reinforced that recreational use is quite different.

In the past, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been a critic of marijuana usage.

"I do believe you'll see greater enforcement ... [it's] a question for the Department of Justice," Spicer said Thursday.

There were no details on what enforcement would look like, however it's possible for the Justice Department to file lawsuits on the grounds that federal law preempts the state laws.

Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Maine and Massachusetts have legalized recreational marijuana usage.

Oregon's Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Senator Ron Wyden issued responses to Spicer's comments Thursday afternoon:

“I am deeply disappointed by Sean Spicer’s statement that he expects states to see 'greater enforcement' and crackdown on adult use of marijuana. The national prohibition of cannabis has been a failure, and millions of voters across the country have demanded a more sensible approach. I’m looking forward to working with the leadership of our newly formed cannabis caucus to ensure that Oregonian’s wishes are protected and that we end the failed prohibition on marijuana,” said Rep. Blumenauer.


“The federal government needs to respect the decisions of Oregon voters. Instead, the Trump Administration is threatening states’ rights, including the rights of one in five Americans who live in a state where marijuana is legal,” Wyden said.

“Wasting taxpayer dollars and burdening our law-enforcement agencies to go after law-abiding recreational marijuana users distracts from going after criminals and threats to our safety. I will fight hard against ridiculous federal government intrusions into our state.”

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