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Jobs, One Major Reason Trump Should Back Down from War on Legal Marijuana

By: Guest Contributor - Mar 1, 2017, 12:53 pm
Trump Should Back Down from War on Legal Marijuana
Legalized marijuana is projected to create a quarter of a million jobs by 2020. (Green Rush Daily)

By Brittany Hunter

The marijuana legalization movement has been holding its breath, waiting to see how President Donald Trump will address the issue.

Public opinion and state law have leaned heavily in favor of decriminalizing the controversial cannabis plant over the last several years, signaling the inevitable downfall of the government’s war on drugs.

However, as numerous state victories gave advocates hope that the end of prohibition was near, the unexpected election of Donald Trump threw the legalization movement a curveball no one was anticipating.

While the future of marijuana in America is still unclear at the moment, if Trump wants to keep his campaign promises of job creation and financial growth, he should strongly consider the economic benefits of marijuana legalization.

The Future is Green

As a presidential nominee, Trump spent much of his campaign promising national job growth. Reaching out to the blue collar working class, Trump promised to bring jobs back to American manufacturing.

However, if Trump is serious about fostering an environment of economic prosperity and job creation, he may want to set his sights on the burgeoning marijuana industry instead.

According to a recent report released by New Frontier Data, the marijuana industry is projected to create more than a quarter of a million new American jobs by the year 2020.

By the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ own projections, the legalized cannabis industry is expected to outpace growth in any other sector over the next few years, including American manufacturing. In fact, manufacturing jobs are expected to decrease by 814,000 over the next seven years.

Additionally, the marijuana industry is currently estimated to be worth about $7.2 billion. Given its current success and expected trajectory, the entire industry is expected to grow at a rate of 17 percent annually.

Likewise, the New Frontier Data’s report estimates that the medicinal market alone will increase its worth from $4.7 billion to $13.3 billion by the year 2020.

Of the 25 states that have decriminalized cannabis in some capacity, seven of those states have allowed for its recreational use. As a result, the recreational industry is also expected to increase its worth from $2.6 billion to $11.2 billion by 2020.

While these projections are bound to have positive effects on the national economy and create a plethora of new American jobs, the estimates will never come to fruition if the Trump Administration decides to backtrack on the progress made thus far.

Good People Don’t Smoke Marijuana

Had Hillary Clinton won on election night, as many had expected, it is highly unlikely that the war on drugs would have suddenly come to a screeching halt.

Not only is Clinton’s own track record on the matter weak, but her husband also contributed greatly to the perpetuation of the problem.

Former President Bill Clinton helped escalate the war on drugs through his support of mandatory minimum sentencing laws and other policies that were prevalent during the “tough on crime” era of the 1980s and 1990s.

However, Mrs. Clinton’s terrible track record on the issue does nothing to excuse Donald Trump, should he make the same mistake.

 “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

While Trump is not a strict ideologue by any means, he has unfortunately chosen to surround himself with advisors and cabinet appointees who have struck fear into the hearts of advocates of marijuana policy reform.

Trump’s decision to nominate Jeff Sessions as his Attorney General only heightened this paranoia among his critics.

Sessions has been a longtime supporter of civil asset forfeiture, which essentially incentivizes law enforcement to use the drug war as a pretext for stealing property from anyone merely suspected of drug-related activity.

As if Session’s support for highway robbery weren’t bad enough, he has also gone on the record making outlandishly biased statements including, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Since Sessions has the legal authority to impose federal drug laws on the states, this comment is quite concerning, to say the least.

While Trump’s own comments on the matter have been somewhat neutral, Press Secretary Sean Spicer added fuel to the fire last week when he hinted that the White House might soon begin enforcing federal marijuana laws once again.

Under the direction of former Attorney General Eric Holder, the federal government agreed to more or less “look the other way” when states made the decision to legalize cannabis. This policy has allowed states like Colorado to add over $1 billion worth of revenue to their local economy and create new jobs for its residents.

Just a few days ago, Sessions publicly recommitted himself to the drug war by saying:

“I don’t think America is going to be a better place when people of all ages, and particularly young people, are smoking pot. I believe it’s an unhealthy practice, and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and we’re seeing real violence around that.”

Ironically, the war on drugs, which Sessions adamantly supports, is responsible for that increase in potency, as economist Mark Thornton has demonstrated.

According to “the Iron Law of Prohibition,” when substances are prohibited, black market providers are incentivized to increase potency because more potent forms take up less storage space, are easier to transport, and sell for more money. This is considered necessary to mitigate the risk of being caught and incarcerated.

Session’s Reefer Madness-inspired statement is absolutely frightening considering his position of authority as Attorney General of the United States of America.

But in the spirit of maintaining optimism, there is still reason to hope that Trump’s alleged commitment to economic growth will overpower the draconian beliefs held by some of his cabinet appointees.

The Economic Savior

Trump was elected as the “no nonsense” businessman who was going to fix our national economy and create jobs for the American people. As America’s “economic savior,” his supporters firmly believed he was the candidate who would restore prosperity to the middle class. This is the promise that ultimately got him elected to the highest office in the land.

Since assuming office, he has shocked the public by actually fulfilling most of his campaign promises— which has been both slightly encouraging and downright terrifying.

While there can be no defense of his love for protectionist policies, he has still maintained his support for a free market economic system.

If this is true and he is as committed to economic reform as he claims to be, then perhaps the economic repercussions of marijuana legalization can change his mind, or at least drown out the backward influence of his advisors.

Brittany Hunter is an associate editor at FEE. Brittany studied political science at Utah Valley University with a minor in Constitutional studies. This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Trump Addresses Congress with Typical Rhetoric, Softer Tone

By: David Unsworth - @LatinAmerUpdate - Mar 1, 2017, 12:52 pm
Trump took a softer, gentler tone last night in his first address to Congress (Dicen Punto Com)

Donald Trump's first address to Congress took on the expected issues in trademark Trump style: trade, immigration, jobs, healthcare, the Supreme Court, terrorism, the military, and foreign policy. The speech was largely met with thunderous applause on the Republican side of the aisle, and with silence by the Democrats. In general, it seemed light on vitriol...characteristic Trump content, but presenting a stark contrast with the much-maligned "dark tone" of his inaugural address. Read More: Florida Governor Vows to Help Trump Fight Castro Regime Read More: Thousands of Mexicans Take to the Streets in Protest of Trump's Border Wall The over-arching theme of the night, from an economic standpoint, was his pledge to rebuild the American economy, through putting our economic interests first. Libertarians and classical liberals, however, may be alarmed by Trump's new spending proposals. Trump pledged to preside over a major infrastructure spending package, promising a USD $1 trillion national investment to revolutionize our roads and rails, ports and bridges, airports and pipelines. On other themes, Trump veered to indulgent nationalism, particularly when he promised that he would build the Keystone Pipeline and Dakota Access Pipeline with American workers, American companies, and American steel. Perhaps to libertarians, his most troubling proposal was to "rebuild" the American military: proposing $54 billion in new spending. He also, however, noted the need for our partners and allies in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia to begin to shoulder their "fair share" of their own national defense, and discussed the imperative of being more prudent with use of American military force in the future. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1459522593195-0'); }); He made the case for his controversial immigration and refugee policies, noting that the vast majority of perpetrators of terrorism attacks since 9/11 have come from outside of the United States. Trump called upon the American public to recognize the high costs to taxpayers and low-wage workers posed by unchecked illegal immigration, and promised to speed up deportation of illegal immigrants with criminal records, while also providing more opportunities for skilled workers to gain entry to the US. He also made a reasonable case for calling into question Obama's eight years of immigration policy, who largely refused to enforce America's immigration law. Trump's speech had the ring of truth when he alleged that without the rule of law we will degenerate into chaos and anarchy, and called for fair and reasonable enforcement of our current immigration laws, while guaranteeing prompt construction of the Mexican border wall. Advocates for educational reform will be pleased by his rhetoric on education. He deemed school choice the path to advancement for "millions of African-American and Latino children...These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, or home school that is right for them." Trump called upon the Senate to give fair consideration to Neil Gorsuch, his nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch has faced determined Democratic opposition in the Senate, where there have been threats to filibuster his nomination. Most political analysts agreed that it was a marked improvement for Trump. Last night appeared to be the first step of the great transition from campaign trail Trump (1.0 let's say), to Donald Trump 2.0...the president. Not "president-elect" but president. His humor and charm are apparent, and they may indeed help him win over new converts. The emotional highlight of the night occurred when Trump honored Carryn Owens, the widow of Chief Special Warfare Operator Ryan Owens, who was killed during a recent raid of an al-Qaeda compound in Yemen. Trump noted that the length of the applause offered up for Owens likely "broke a record." Trump is absolutely right when he suggests that the priority of the American government is to put American interests first. It is curious that this is controversial to the American Left. But he needs to temper his barely veiled nationalism with the realization that many libertarians and mainstream Republicans are skeptical of some of his economic proposals. In general Trump's speech is not likely to change many minds within the Democratic party establishment, but it is likely to do some good in softening his image with the American public, and encouraging Democrats to work with him, which a recent poll indicated was favored by 73% of the American public. Trump now faces the task of working his proposals through a Congress where Republicans control the house by a healthy margin, but face a challenging 52-48 split in the Senate. He will have his work cut out for him.

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