The White House reportedly formed a secret committee of federal agencies to fight against cannabis legalization.
According to BuzzFeed News, the Trump administration formed the Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee to push back against the growing public support of cannabis and to show marijuana legalization measures in a negative light. BuzzFeed cited documents and interviews with agency staff in its report.
The committee is coordinated by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
The White House purportedly instructed 14 federal agencies, as well as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, to submit data that demonstrate the most significant negative trends pertaining to cannabis and the threats that the drug poses to the country.
Committee asks agencies to portray cannabis negatively
BuzzFeed News wrote that, in one memo, the committee complained that the narrative around cannabis is unfairly leaning in favor of the drug. However, instead of seeking objective information, the committee is asking officials to portray cannabis in a negative light, no matter what the data show.
In fact, a summary of a meeting held on July 27 between the White House and nine various departments stated that the prevailing cannabis narrative in the United States is one-sided, partial, and inaccurate. A follow-up memo then provided a guidance for responses from the agencies.
The White House told agency officials that the departments should provide the most significant data that demonstrate negative trends, with an accompanying statement that describes the implications of such trends.
The meeting summary further indicated that the staff believe that for the administration to reverse the growing popularity of cannabis, it should message the facts regarding the negative effects of cannabis on national safety, health, and security.
The July 27 meeting was participated in by the largest federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, and State Department.
This White House followed up the following week by sending agencies and other departments a directive to submit bulleted fact sheets identifying threats and issues related to cannabis, as well as initiatives. These departments include the Defense, Education, Veterans Affairs, and Transportation Departments, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency.
The agencies and departments were also instructed to provide an example of a story that relates an incident highlighting a key area of concern related to the use, production, and sale of cannabos. They were also directed to describe how cannabis poses a threat to their department, as well as the consequences pf the drug on national security and health.
Deputy White House Press Secretary Lindsay Walters told BuzzFeed News that the “administration’s policy coordination process is a deliberative, internal process to craft President Trump’s policies on important issues, as well as to ensure consistency with his agenda.”
While none of the 14 agencies, plus the DEA and the White House, denied the existence of the committee, most of them declined to comment about the issue when contacted by BuzzFeed.
A terrible move by the administration
John Hudak, Brookings Institution senior fellow, criticized the committee’s slanted approach to cannabis-related facts and its “alienating effort on the president’s behalf. ”
Hudak told BuzzFeed that this is “a terrible political move by the Trump administration,” saying that the committee’s agenda betrays the President’s pledges to protect cannabis-legal states from federal intervention.
He said that collecting one-sided data would be “policy malpractice,” and that the coordination of propaganda surrounding an issue that President Trump ostensibly supported is unprecedented.
It can be recalled that in April, President Donald Trump pledged to support the efforts of lawmakers to protect states that have already legalized marijuana. He struck a deal with Senator Cory Gardner to back off cannabis.