The cannabis industry in the US has been a victim of great drama throughout the year. First, it wasn’t legalized. Then when it finally got the freedom it deserved, the industry got shadowed with clouds of contradictions concerning the regulations. Furthermore, the federal government—at least until a week or two earlier— seemed to be entirely against most of the regulations made by state lawmakers.
It is mentioned ‘until a week or two earlier’ because recent statements by the Trump government contradict their own statements made in the past. John Kelly, the Security Secretary of Department of Homeland, told the news on Sunday that cannabis is “not a factor” when it comes to War on Drugs. This made headlines, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t.
How is it that the federal government that has been vouching against marijuana since possibly the 1930s has suddenly eradicated marijuana from its War on Drugs? Sounds quite ironic! To top that off, Kelly even stated that the United States’ drug problem is not about “arresting a lot of users”—something the feds have been doing against marijuana users.
The United States has been fighting against drugs for nearly a century now. According to a story published by a local radio station, it all started with Harry Anslinger. He was the first ever commissioner appointed at the back in 1930. It was the time when America took action against the rising drug market. The consumption of opioids, marijuana, and cocaine was on an all time high and the nation wasn’t giving much attention to it.
Harry Anslinger was the man who urged the change of behavior against drugs. He was the man who advocated the prohibition of these drugs to their entirety. This was a time when the pros of cannabis were unknown. The use of these drugs was frowned upon to an extent that Harry proposed severe punishments for those who consumed the drugs.
The bottom line of the story published by the radio station was that these strict punishments by the law are still present and, to the appalling fortune of cannabis users, are still getting stronger.
There are thousands of users of cannabis rotting in US jails at the moment.
In a nutshell, one facet of the government is making the cannabis industry’s survival difficult, while the other facet talks about how cannabis is “not a factor” affecting War on Drugs. Kelly, when asked about the legalization of marijuana, stated,
“Yeah, marijuana is not a factor in the drug war,” Kelly responded, then later added: “It’s three things. Methamphetamine. Almost all produced in Mexico. Heroin. Virtually all produced in Mexico. And cocaine that comes up from further south.”
The irony is that John Kelly is not deeming marijuana as a potential threat, yet he will not explain why thousands of marijuana users are behind bars under the ‘War on Drugs’ justification. Figures revealed by the Drug Policy Alliance for the year 2015 revealed that 643,121 pot users were arrested that year in the name of War on Drugs. What’s astonishing is that a staggering 89% of those arrested were only put behind bars for possessing the drug, not for using it.
It is clear how these statements of John Kelly are extremely misleading and also contradict with the government’s actions. But the government’s actual stance on the matter still remains to be seen.