How Will Trump Change the Medical Marijuana Industry?

Anne Cable

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As Trump was chosen President-elect, another historic decision was being made across the states, as eight more states voted to permit the use of marijuana for medical reasons, and by adults who need it. This means that more states have now legalized medical marijuana than states who do not allow it: something many within the industry were hoping would push another review of how legalization is classified on a federal level, and ultimately giving medical marijuana users the protection of the law that many need. However this victory for the medical marijuana industry (which is currently worth $4.5 billion) was tempered by the unexpected win of President-elect Donald Trump, who has yet to share his view on the legalization of the drug.

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Hilary Clinton was very vocal about her support of continued research into the benefits of medical marijuana, and its use amongst those terminally and chronically ill members of our communities whose pain was being managed. However Trump’s running mate and Vice President-elect Mike Pence had expressed his skepticism about the benefits of medical marijuana during the past several months. This is a view that is shared by many others within the Republican Party, who largely oppose the use of medical marijuana in the country.

An Uncertain Attitude

During the campaign process, Trump was not specific about his approach to medical marijuana; simply stating he felt it should be determined on a state by state basis (which would be a maintenance of the status quo). However some of the President-elect’s most trusted advisors (such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani) are opponents to the legalization process, and it is feared by those within the industry that this will now influence any decisions that Trump makes. The opponents of medical marijuana legalization are very vocal. Many opioid companies have lobbied against it, largely because it is reducing the number of people using opioids for pain relief purposes and therefore their profits. Meanwhile, many other conservative opponents are concerned that marijuana could act as a gateway drug to other harder drug use, and that legalization (even for medical purposes) could send the wrong message.

Many people who rely on the drug for pain relief and to control the other symptoms of their long-term conditions are waiting with keen interest to see how the Trump Administration will react to those states who most recently made the decision to decriminalize the drug. Most forecasters believe that the Trump Administration will maintain the status quo, and that there will be no federal involvement in state decisions about the decriminalization of medical marijuana, or the ways in which it can be distributed. However the federal legalization that many expected to happen relatively swiftly under a Clinton administration is now not expected to be agreed, and certainly not with any speed. What we know right now is that the medical marijuana industry is set to grow considerably.

Right now, however, a backdrop of political uncertainty that is not expected to dissipate any time soon will temper that growth.

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