More confusion from Trump administration
Last week, “divergent tones” from President Donald Trump and from his Cabinet officials left Mexican authorities in the uncomfortable position of not knowing who to believe regarding the administration’s stance on immigration policy.
“It’s a military operation,” Trump said Feb. 23 at a White House event, the same day U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly was telling Mexican officials in the Mexican capital, “There will be no use of military forces in immigration. There will be no — repeat, no — mass deportations.”
The White House press secretary later clarified the president’s position to mean the operation wouldn’t involve military personnel, but would be carried out with a “high degree of precision.”
If the president were more precise with language or articulating policy positions, maybe his administration wouldn’t be tinged with so much uncertainty.
But uncertainty is the name of the game in Colorado and other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner spoke with Sen. Jeff Sessions before he was confirmed as attorney general. Gardner, according to Hickenlooper, was led to believe that marijuana enforcement wouldn’t be a priority under a Sessions-led Department of Justice.
But the same day that Trump administration officials were sowing confusion in Mexico, White House spokesman Sean Spicer hinted at a looming crackdown on marijuana — a reversal of Trump’s campaign stance that states had the right to decide for themselves whether to legalize recreational use and regulate sales.
Hickenlooper expressed doubt that the feds could shut down the pot industry in Colorado because Colorado’s regulations allowing personal use of marijuana are part of the state’s Constitution.
We’d prefer to avoid the legal battle that would have to take place to learn if the governor’s assessment is correct. But for the sake of Parachute, De Beque, Palisade and any number of smaller Colorado municipalities which have looked to legal marijuana as a new source of revenue, an official Trump administration position on marijuana enforcement can’t come soon enough.
Trump, according to Spicer, doesn’t oppose medical marijuana. “But that’s very different than recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice will be further looking into.”
That’s an about-face from the Obama administration’s stance, which laid out in an official memo that the federal government wouldn’t interfere in states where nonmedical use of marijuana is allowed.
During his inauguration speech, Trump spoke of transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to the American people. Yet, Washington, D.C. could unilaterally undo what Colorado voters said they wanted when they passed Amendment 64 in 2012. Colorado is no outlier. A recent national poll said 59 percent of Americans think marijuana should be legal and 71 percent would oppose a federal crackdown.
If the president wants more Americans to believe his administration runs like a “fine-tuned machine,” he needs to establish better consistency on policy positions and make sure his Cabinet is on the same page.