Donald Trump is going to be our president. What the hell are we supposed to do now? Oh, and also, is he going to take away our weed?
My Dear Fellow American,
I get it. So many of us woke up the day after the election with heavy hearts and in complete disbelief. There have been so many emotions: sadness, anger, fear, depression, numbness, frustration. They are all valid. We are faced with spending the next four years with a sexist, homophobic, racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic, misogynist as our leader. That is a lot to take in.
I highly doubt there will be a federal legalization of cannabis during the next four years, so let’s take a look at what you need to know. If you live in a state that has medical cannabis, recreational cannabis, or both, you should be fine as long as you follow the laws in those states. As with many of Trump’s thoughts, he leaves the legality of cannabis in the hands of the states.
While Trump has flip-flopped on many issues and you never know what he’ll do, he has said he is in favor of medical cannabis but is pretty steadfast on letting states decide when it comes to recreational pot. Take a few hits and exhale, knowing that Trump is not here for your weed…
…Unless you are a person of color. Then I urge you to be careful, especially if you are in a state where cannabis isn’t legal. After all, we know that the legal system targets minorities when it comes to marijuana and most crimes, and I can only imagine how that racial disparity will grow in Trump’s America.
Before the election, the ACLU of Massachusetts released, “The War on Marijuana In Black And White,” a report looking at race and justice around cannabis. The ACLU found that the number of marijuana-related arrests in Massachusetts declined since decriminalization, yet racial disparities persisted. For example, in 2014, statewide arrest rates for possession were 3.3 times higher for black people than for whites, despite similar use rates. It should also be noted that racial disparity in marijuana-related arrests persists even in states where recreational cannabis is legal.
Unfortunately, with little chance of cannabis being made legal on a federal level, citizens—and in particular people of color—need to know what to do in order to protect themselves when it comes to weed in Trump’s America.
Even if you live in an area with legal cannabis, make sure not to smoke outside or in areas you shouldn’t be. While I hate the idea of comparing a Trump presidency to a police state, the sad fact remains that our civil liberties—including the right to enjoy cannabis—may very well come under attack in the next four years. Become familiar with the laws in your state. Know where you can use cannabis, how much you can safely posses, how old you need to be, and any restrictions that might relate to your situation.
If you are white, use your privilege to help those being targeted. Maybe that means carrying the stash of a non-white friend when you’re in a car. Or, that could even mean being vocal about cannabis reform through protest or actively working to change policy. Use your position to help ensure that everyone can access cannabis fairly and without racial prejudice.
I reached out to Luke K. Stanton, managing partner at the Frontera Law Group, which specializes in cannabis-related legal issues, who offered up these inspiring thoughts: “Nothing changes at the state level if you follow state law. And to quote my colleague John Hudak at the Brookings Institute, if the federal government tries to interfere with that, you will quickly see the federal government brought to its knees.”