The story about a nuclear bunker with a massive cannabis farm is not what it seems

inside the factory.
Image: Wiltshire police

On the surface, it may seem like a story that’s highly relevant to millennial interests.

Police in Wiltshire uncovered a massive weed farm inside a bunker built in 1985 to protect government officials and local dignitaries in the event of a nuclear attack.

What’s cooler than thousands of cannabis plants, worth 1 million ($1.26 million) in total, for your doomsday scenario?

Image: wiltshire police

The raid is also straight from an action movie. The bunker, which was owned by the Ministry of Defence and shut down in 1992, is almost impenetrable so officers had to wait for three people to leave in order to detain them and gain access to the site.

There are approximately 20 rooms in the building, split over two floors, each 200 feet long and 70 feet wide. Almost every single room had been converted for the wholesale production of cannabis plants, and there was a large amount of evidence of previous crops. This was an enormous set up.” detective inspector Paul Franklin said.

However, there is more.

Inside the bunker, police also found three other people, aged 15, 19 and 37, “all of no fixed abode.”

According to Franklin, they were undocumented immigrants “who were held there against their will, not allowed to leave and forced to work as gardeners” in the marijuana factory.

Image: Wiltshire Police

“We believe they are victims of human trafficking,” he said. “They were forced to sleep inside the bunker, which is all built in concrete so it’s like living underground.”

The three men who were detained outside the bunker, aged 27, 30 and 45, were arrested on suspicion of cannabis production and human trafficking offences.

Franklin said that the phenomenon of drug cultivators exploiting undocumented immigrants for growing cannabis is sadly common in the UK.

A report by the National Police Chiefs’ Council stated that there is “a continued link between commercial cultivation, modern slavery and people living without legal permission to remain in the UK, including the exploitation of vulnerable adults and children.”


11 Key Findings From One Of The Most Comprehensive Reports Ever On The Health Effects Of Marijuana

The change in attitudes toward cannabis and in legal access to marijuana around the US over the past several years is staggering.

As of last fall, 57% of adults in the US said they thought marijuana should be legal, with only 37% taking the opposing view which is essentially a reversal of the opinions held a decade ago.

And after November’s elections, 20% of Americans live in a state that has voted to legalize recreational use. Far more live in states with some access to medical marijuana.

But this obscures a crucial fact: From a scientific perspective, there’s still a ton we don’t know about cannabis.

A massive report released today by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine gives one of the most comprehensive looks and certainly the most up-to-date at exactly what we know about the science of cannabis. The committee behind the report, representing top universities around the country, considered more than 10,000 studies for its analysis, from which it was able to draw nearly 100 conclusions.

In large part, the report reveals how much we still have to learn, but it’s still surprising to see how much we know about certain health effects of cannabis.

This summation was sorely needed, as is more research on the topic.

“The policy has outpaced science, and it’s really too bad,” Staci Gruber, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery program at McLean Hospital, told Business Insider in an interview last week, several days before we saw the report.

“As a scientist, I think the goal is always to try very hard to get to the findings and to be able to disseminate those findings so that we can make good decisions grounded in science,” Gruber said. Cannabis “has been around for thousands of years; it’s not like we just made it in a lab.”

Having good research is essential so that we know “how best we can use it, what are the safest ways, and what are the real risks,” she added.

Surprising findings on cancer, mental health, and more

Before we dive into the findings, there are two quick things to keep in mind.

First, the language in the report is designed to say exactly how much we know and don’t know about a certain effect. Terms like “conclusive evidence” mean we have enough data to make a firm conclusion; terms like “limited evidence” mean there’s still significant uncertainty, even if there are good studies supporting an idea; and different degrees of certainty fall between these levels. For many things, there’s still insufficient data to really say anything positive or negative about cannabis.

A variety of medicinal marijuana buds in jars are pictured at Los Angeles Patients & Caregivers Group dispensary in West Hollywood, California U.S., October 18, 2016.   REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

Thomson Reuters

Second, context is important. Many of these findings are meant as summations of fact, not endorsements or condemnations. For example, the report found evidence that driving while high increased the risk of an accident. But the report also notes that certain studies have found lower crash rates after the introduction of medical cannabis to an area. It’s possible that cannabis makes driving more dangerous and that the number of crashes could decrease after introduction if people take proper precautions.

We’ll work on providing context to these findings over the next few days but wanted to share some of the initial findings first.

With that in mind, here are some of the most striking findings from the report:

  • There was conclusive or substantial evidence (the most definitive levels) that cannabis or cannabinoids, found in the marijuana plant, can be an effective treatment for chronic pain, according to the report, which is “by far the most common” reason people request medical marijuana.
    With similar certainty, they found that cannabis can help treat muscle spasms related to multiple sclerosis and can help prevent or treat nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.
  • The authors found evidence that suggested that marijuana increased the risk of a driving crash.
  • They also found evidence that in states with legal access to marijuana, children were more likely to accidentally consume cannabis.
    We’ve looked at these numbers before and seen that the overall increases in risk are small one study found that the rate of overall accidental ingestion among children went from 1.2 per 100,000 two years before legalization to 2.3 per 100,000 two years after legalization. There’s still a far higher chance parents call poison control because of kids eating crayons or diaper cream, but it’s still important to know that some increased risk could exist.
  • Perhaps surprisingly, the authors found moderate evidence (a pretty decent level of certainty and an indication that good data exists) that cannabis was not connected to any increased risk of the lung cancers or head and neck cancers associated with smoking. However, they did find some limited evidence suggesting that chronic or frequent users may have higher rates of a certain type of testicular cancer.
  • Connections to heart conditions were less clear. There’s insufficient evidence to support or refute the idea that cannabis might increase the risk of a heart attack, though there was some limited evidence that smoking cannabis might be a trigger for a heart attack.
  • There was substantial evidence that regular marijuana smokers are more likely to experience chronic bronchitis and that stopping smoking was likely to improve these conditions. There’s not enough evidence to say that that cannabis does or doesn’t increase the risk for respiratory conditions like asthma.
  • There was limited evidence that smoking marijuana could have some anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Substantial evidence suggests a link between prenatal cannabis exposure (when a pregnant woman uses marijuana) and lower birth weight, and there was limited evidence suggesting that this use could increase pregnancy complications and increase the risk that a baby would have to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit.
  • In terms of mental health, substantial evidence shows an increased risk of developing schizophrenia among frequent users, something that studies have shown is a particular concern for people at risk for schizophrenia in the first place. There was also moderate evidence that cannabis use is connected to a small increased risk for depression and an increased risk for social anxiety disorder.
  • Limited evidence showed a connection between cannabis use and impaired academic achievement, something that has been shown to be especially true for people who begin smoking regularly during adolescence (which has also been shown to increase the risk for problematic use).
  • One of the most interesting and perhaps most important conclusions of the report is that far more research on cannabis is needed. Importantly, in most cases, saying cannabis was connected to an increased risk doesn’t mean marijuana use caused that risk.

And it’s hard to conduct research on marijuana right now. The report says that’s largely because of regulatory barriers, including marijuana’s Schedule I classification by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the fact that researchers often can’t access the same sorts of marijuana that people actually use. Even in states where it’s legal to buy marijuana, federal regulations prevent researchers from using that same product.

Without the research, it’s hard to say how policymakers should best support legalization efforts to say how educational programs or mental health institutions should adapt to support any changes, for example.

“If I had one wish, it would be that the policymakers really sat down with scientists and mental health practitioners” as they enact any of these new policies, Krista Lisdahl, an associate professor of psychology and director of the Brain Imaging and Neuropsychology Lab at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, told Business Insider in an interview shortly before we could review this report.

It’s important to know what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to be studied more. This report does a lot to show what we’ve learned in recent years, but it also shows just how much more we need to learn.

In studying cannabis, “we’re not really after the good or the bad we’re after the truth,” Gruber said.

Read the original article on Tech Insider. Copyright 2017.

Now watch: 6 ‘healthy’ eating habits you are better off giving up


Marijuana to the Glory of God

How are we to think about recreational cannabis use in the church?

By Jeff Lacine

I used to smoke marijuana every day.

Sixteen years ago, when I was in my late teens, cannabis was a big part of my life. Today it continues to confront me as a pastor in a city where recreational marijuana is legally celebrated. Our church office is directly across the street from a dispensary where I can legally buy a pre-rolled joint for seven dollars.

How are we to think about recreational cannabis use in the church? A growing number of Christians today believe that it is biblically permissible to use cannabis recreationally. Are they right?

Cannabis Versus Alcohol

Quick, pat answers to the question of recreational cannabis use are often unhelpful. Responses without nuance will not best serve the church in the long run. To say that alcohol is permissible and cannabis is not, because Christians drink beer and wine for the taste but people only smoke pot to get stoned, just wont do. Such a simplification distorts the truth.

For one, Christians dont drink beer and wine only for the taste. Even moderate drinking, which is biblically permissible, has lubricating psychoactive effects. From a biblical perspective, this lubricating effect can be acceptable. While drunkenness is clearly prohibited (Ephesians 5:18; Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:1921; 1 Peter 4:3), God has given wine to gladden the heart of man (Psalm 104:1415).

However, evangelical churches sometimes have prohibited the use of alcoholamong members because the Bible forbids drunkenness. This is a mistake. The Bible warns us against such extra-biblical prohibitions (1 Timothy 4:3; Colossians 2:1623). Scripture permits the moderate use of alcohol, when it can be enjoyed in faith, even though it has psychoactive effects.

Does God, then, also permit the recreational use of cannabis? Should we treat cannabis like alcohol in the church? Is it okay to light up around the campfire just like it may be to enjoy wine at a wedding?

Similarities and Dissimilarities

Lets examine this commonly used comparison between alcohol and cannabis. The following are ways that cannabis and alcohol are similar and dissimilar.

Ways that cannabis is like alcohol:

  • Cannabis, like alcohol, is an organic substance.
  • Cannabis, like alcohol, has the potential to intoxicate and distort reality.
  • Cannabis, like alcohol, has different effects on someone who uses it regularly than someone who uses it occasionally. (In other words, tolerances can be built up with regular marijuana use similar to the way tolerances can be built up with regular alcohol use.)
  • Cannabis, like alcohol, can be habit-forming (see 1 Timothy 3:8).

Ways that cannabis is unlike alcohol:

  • Unlike alcohol, you cant blackout or die from an overdose of cannabis.
  • Unlike alcohol, there are many different strains of cannabis. The same amount of cannabis smoked or ingested from two different cannabis plants can have different effects on an individualeven if both plants have the same exact amount of THC (the primary psychoactive chemical in cannabis).
  • Unlike alcohol, marijuana has many different effects on an individual due to its complex chemical makeup. There are at least 113 different chemical compounds (cannabinoids) inside the cannabis plant that combine to cause a variety of effects on an individual when smoked or ingested.
  • Unlike alcohol, cannabis has not been a staple in cultures all around the world for use in celebrations and ceremonies (like John 2:9).
  • Unlike alcohol, regular cannabis use is strongly correlated with mental health disorders such as schizoaffective disorder. While heavy drinking (alcohol abuse) has also been linked to mental health disorders, moderate drinking has not.
  • Unlike alcohol, cannabis has been a cultural symbol of rebellion for a large part of the last century.
  • Unlike alcohol, cannabis was not used by Jesus in his Last Supper, which is to be regularly commemorated by the church (Mark 14:2325).
  • And perhaps most importantly, unlike alcohol, cannabis is not directly addressed in the Bible.

It is unhelpful to make direct correlations between cannabis and alcohol, as if all the Bibles teaching on alcohol applies to cannabis. Not only are cannabis and alcohol vastly different chemical compounds, with vastly different effects, but the Bible gives us clear and direct permission for the moderate use of alcohol while never directly referencing other psychoactive compounds such as marijuana.

The Big Picture

Even though cannabis is never directly mentioned in Scripture, we do have God-revealed principles to guide and direct our thinking about its recreational use. We often get help on specific questions when we keep our eyes on the big picture. What is the endgame for the Christian life? What should we be aiming at in all things?

As Christians, our goal is knowing and experiencing the full and undistorted reality of the glory of God in our resurrected physical bodies (1 Corinthians 15:1249; Philippians 3:2021; 1 Corinthians 13:12). This is our trajectory as Christians. This is our aim.

God is glorious beyond measure, and Christians seek to experience the reality of his glory, for the sake of his glory. Sin has distorted our vision and corrupted our world. Ever since sin first entered the world, all of us have been born spiritually dead, unable to discern the true glory of God (Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 4:4). When we experience the redemptive work of Christ through the Holy Spirit, we are awakened to the reality and beauty of God (2 Corinthians 4:6). But until we see him face to face, we still see his glory as through a glass dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12). As redeemed believers, we are on a journey to knowing him without obstruction. Therefore, we do not want to distort reality; rather, we aim to know him as he really is. We want to see things as they really are.

The Christian use of any kind of psychoactive substance should always align with this gospel goal of looking to see things clearer. We do not want our vision of reality distorted.

Christian Cup of Coffee?

Consider this principle in terms of a psychoactive substance most American adults use every day: caffeine. Why do people drink coffee in the morning? To help them to see things as they really are, rather than through the fog of grogginess. The right and proper use of this God-given substance helps us see things as they really are.

But how does this principle apply to alcohol? At times moderate lubrication in Godward celebrations can be in keeping with the reality. People dont drink wine at funerals, which are a reminder of the curse and consequences of sin. If someone drank wine at a funeral, I would wonder whether they have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

But people do drink wine at weddings, in which we celebrate the profound parable being played out before our eyes: the great Bridegroom is coming for his bride, the church (Revelation 19:7)! And wine (explicitly) will have a God-given role at the final consummating celebration (Mark 14:2325). In this way, the proper and moderate use of alcohol can be a clarifier, not a distorter. It points us to the joy, fellowship and celebration of the great coming feast.

What About Weed?

Is there a proper and moderate use of marijuana that can actually serve to clarify and point to biblical realities like alcohol may in certain circumstances? Or does the recreational use of marijuana always distort?

I believe, both from research and experience, that recreational cannabis distorts reality and numbs people to the ability to experience life as it truly is. Even a relatively small amount of THC puts the infrequent user into a fog. A larger amount can potentially cause paranoia.

What about more regular, high-functioning users who have built up a tolerance and experience a less intense high when they smoke or ingest cannabis? While cannabis wont induce hallucinations or the same intense high for frequent users, we have other troubling factors to consider with persistent use.

There is a reason that marijuana has long been associated with the couch, a bag of chips and a television remote. Put another way, marijuana has never been associated with engaged parenting. Regular marijuana use causes disengagement, dulling individuals into a long-term, slow and subtle numbness. If you ask almost anyone who has formerly used cannabis on a regular basis, he will speak about this phenomena. To confirm this testimony, studies have shown a high correlation between regular cannabis use and the clinical diagnosis of Amotivational Syndrome.

It doesnt surprise me when a regular marijuana user tries to refute the reality of cannabiss reality-numbing effect. When you are in the numbing cloud of regular cannabis use, it is hard to realize that you are in such a cloudeven when it is obvious to close friends and family. Cannabis may distort reality in a more subtle way for the regular user than for the occasional user, but the subtlety of it makes the negative effects all the more insidious and deep.

Counsel and Hope

Though the Bible does not forbid the use of every substance that affects the mind, the recreational use of cannabis seems to violate the Christian value of sobriety (1 Thessalonians 5:68; Titus 2:2, 6; 1 Peter 4:7). As our culture celebrates the casual use of cannabis today, and does so increasing in the coming days, we should be vigilant not to be deceived as a church. We should not idly stand by as we watch brothers and sisters who profess faith in Christ enter into a mind-numbing, reality-distorting cloud of cannabis. We should encourage one another to peer through the dim glass and discern the glory of God with all our might as the Day draws near (Hebrews 10:25).

However, it is worth saying that we should also be careful not to make the same mistakes that churches made by previous generations with regard to alcohol, adding extra prohibitions to Gods revealed word. Because of the many variables involved with marijuana use (for example, its medicinal use), I believe we should be very slow to make a firm prohibition policy for members of the church, such that we would automatically proceed with church discipline upon unrepentant use. However, it should be clear that unrepentant marijuana use could easily lead to church discipline.

We should be quick to engage with individual members who use marijuana, asking them questions and seeking to understand, being ready to exhort and rebuke them if it becomes apparent that they are violating the biblical standards of sobriety and integrity.

The details and nuances well encounter will be complex, but Jesus church, holding fast to his word, led by a team of wise pastors, will be up for the challenge. God will have new mercies for us as we walk together by faith in the age of legal marijuana.

**Marijuana to the Glory of Godwas originally published on Desiring God.

About the Author: is pastor of Sellwood Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon. He graduated from Bethlehem Seminary. He and his wife have four children.


North Americans Spent $53.3 Billion On Marijuana Last Year, Most Of It Illegally

A new report estimates consumers spent $53.3 billion on cannabis in North America last year.

The first-of-its-kind analysis, compiled by ArcView Market Research, spans legal, medical and illegal marijuana markets across both the United States and Canada. At around $46 billion, the illegal market constituted 87 percent of marijuana sales in 2016 (a decrease from 90 percent in 2015), dwarfing both medical and legal sales.

The marijuana investment and research firm provided a 25-page executive summary of its fifth annual State of Legal Marijuana Markets to The Huffington Post Tuesday, ahead of the full reports release in February.

Arcview projects the legal marijuana market will expand from its current $6.9 billion to $21.6 billion by 2021, as California, Massachusetts and Canada expand their cannabis sales, and medical sales begin in Florida. The $6.9 billion figure is itself a 34 percent increase in just one year from 2015.

Assuming the projections hold, the five-year growth rate for legal marijuana from 2016 to 2021 would fall just short of that seen by broadband internet providers from 2002 through 2007, which expanded at around 29 percent per year, from around $7 billion to north of $25 billion.

Unlike most of the billion-dollar industries that preceded it, marijuana is in a unique position, ArcView argues, because the market doesnt need to be created from scratch it just needs to transition from illicit to legal channels.

The enormous amount of existing, if illicit, consumer spending sets cannabis apart from most other major consumer-market investment opportunities throughout history, Arcview Market Research CEO Troy Dayton explained in an emailed statement.

In contrast to comparable markets with fast growth from zero to tens of billions in recent decades such as organic foods, home video, mobile, or the internet, the cannabis industry doesnt need to create demand for a new product or innovation it just needs to move demand for an already widely-popular product into legal channels.

In states that have moved to tax and regulate the drug, the black market has decreased rapidly, the report found. Colorados black market, for instance, accounts for about one-third of all cannabis sales, with the majority having transitioned to legal marketplaces.

ArcView found the cashflow going to drug dealers and cartels has diminished accordingly, helped in part by the shrinking illegality premium for the product once demanded by the black market.


White House Opens Door To Crackdown On Recreational Marijuana

White House press secretary Sean Spicer suggested during a press conference Thursday that the federal government may crack down on states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

Spicer explained that President Donald Trump sees the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana as two distinct issues. When it comes to medical marijuana, Spicer indicated that the president understands the importance of the drugs availability, especially to those facing terminal diseases. But when it comes to recreational use, Spicer had a very different take, connecting recreational marijuana use to the opioid crisis currently ravaging the nation.

Theres a big difference between [medical marijuana] and recreational marijuana and I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be encouraging people theres still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature, Spicer said.

When asked if the federal government will take action around recreational marijuana, Spicer said, Thats a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe that youll see greater enforcement of it. Recreational use … is something the Department of Justice will be looking into.

Marijuana remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, despite statewide efforts to scale back on criminalizing the plant over the past few years. Legal recreational marijuana has been approved in eight states and Washington, D.C., which continues to ban sales, unlike the state programs. A total of 28 states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. FormerPresident Barack Obamas Justice Department allowed states to forge their own way on marijuana policy withguidance urging federal prosecutors to refrain from targeting state-legal marijuana operations. But this guidance is not law and can be reversed by the Trump administration.

Spicers comments Thursday came moments after he addressed the White Houses controversial decision to rescind federal protections barring schools from discriminating against transgender students as a matter of states rights a philosophy that Trump appeared to support with regard to marijuana during his campaign, when he repeatedly saidhe would respect states positions on the issue.But following his election, Trumps selection of Jeff Sessions as attorney general alarmed many drug policy reformers.

Thats because Sessions has long held retrograde views on marijuana and the war on drugs. During a Senate hearing last year, Sessions spoke out against weed and urged the federal government to send the message to the public that good people dont smoke marijuana. He went on to criticize Obama for not speaking out more forcefully against the drug, saying that we need grown-ups in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized. In separate comments last year, Sessions also called the legalization of marijuana a mistake.

Either the President is flip-flopping or his staff is, once again, speaking out of turn.” Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)

Earlier this year, during Sessions confirmation hearings, the former Alabama senator offered only vague answers about how he might approach the drug. While he didnt appear to suggest there would be any radical changes to federal enforcement,he left the door open for increased federal interference.

Drug policy reformers have raised concerns that Sessions could use the FBI to crack down on marijuana operations nationwide, or direct the Drug Enforcement Administration to enforce federal prohibition outside of the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.The court ruled in August that a federal rider blocks federal officials from prosecuting state-legal marijuana operators and patients. But that rider must be re-approved annually, and if its allowed to expire, Sessions could then order the DEA to enforce federal law nationally. He could also sue the various state governments that have set up regulatory schemes.

Spicers comments Thursday are also in opposition to statements from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), a vocal proponent for reforming marijuana laws, who told The Huffington Post in November that Sessions would not interfere with states that have legalized marijuana,a position that he characterized as consistent with Trumps.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), a vocal proponent for reform of federal marijuana laws, said Spicers comments suggest that Trump may be flip-flopping on the issue.

The President has said time and again that the decision about marijuana needs to be left to the states, Polis said in a statement to HuffPost. Now either the President is flip-flopping or his staff is, once again, speaking out of turn, either way these comments leave doubt and uncertainty for the marijuana industry, stifling job growth in my state. The public has spoken on recreational marijuana, weve seen it work in Colorado, and now is the time to lift the federal prohibition.

Rep.Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.),who launched thecongressional Cannabis Caucusearlier this month along with Polis and two other congressmen, said he was deeply disappointed by Spicers remarks.

The national prohibition of cannabis has been a failure, and millions of voters across the country have demanded a more sensible approach, Blumenauer said. The Cannabis Caucus is a group of lawmakers dedicated to protecting the burgeoning legal weed industry.

A federal crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana is in direct opposition with what American voters have said they want.A new survey from Quinnipiac University released Thursday found that a strong majority of American voters 71 percent want the federal government to respect state marijuana laws. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats, independents and every age group polled agreed: the feds should not enforce prohibition in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana.

The trend of state-level legalization also reflects a broader cultural shift towardacceptance of marijuana, the most commonly used illicit substance in the United States. National support for the legalization of marijuana has risen dramatically in recent years, reaching historic highs in multiple polls just last month. States like Colorado have established regulated marijuana marketplaces, and successes there have debunked some lawmakers and law enforcers predictions that such polices would result in disaster.

Recreational use … is something the Department of Justice will be looking into. White House press secretary Sean Spicer

Drug policy reformers blasted Spicers Thursday remarks.

If the administration is looking for ways to become less popular, cracking down on voter-approved marijuana laws would be a great way to do it, said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. On the campaign trail, President Trump clearly and repeatedly pledged that he would leave decisions on cannabis policy to the states. With a clear and growing majority of the country now supporting legalization, reneging on his promises would be a political disaster and huge distraction from the rest of the presidents agenda.

National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith said it would be a mistake for DOJ to overthrow the will of the voters and state governments who have set up regulated adult-use programs.

It would represent a rejection of the values of economic growth, limited government, and respect for federalism that Republicans claim to embrace, Smith said.

Mason Tvert, director of communications for Marijuana Policy Project, said that while Spicer claims theres a difference between medical and recreational marijuana, the benefits and need for regulation apply equally to both.

This administration is claiming that it values states rights, so we hope they will respect the rights of states to determine their own marijuana policies, Tvert added. It is hard to imagine why anyone would want marijuana to be produced and sold by cartels and criminals rather than tightly regulated, taxpaying businesses.

When asked for details on Spicers remarks, Department of Justice spokesman Peter Carr said that DOJ didnt have anything more to provide than what [Spicer] said at todays briefing.

Kevin Sabet, president of anti-marijuana group Project SAM, said the current split between federal and state laws is unsustainable and that he was hopeful for the Trump administrations new enforcement priorities.

This isnt an issue about states rights, its an issue of public health and safety for communities, Sabet said.

This story has been updated to include comment from Blumenauer.


White House: Feds will step up marijuana law enforcement

Washington (CNN)The White House said Thursday it expects law enforcement agents to enforce federal marijuana laws when they come into conflict with states where recreational use of the drug is permitted.

“I do believe you will see greater enforcement of it,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said regarding federal drug laws, which still list marijuana as an illegal substance.
That’s a reversal from the Obama administration’s stance, which laid out in an official memo that the federal government wouldn’t interfere in states where nonmedical use of marijuana is allowed.
    That guidance was issued after two states — Colorado and Washington — voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Obama said in the immediate aftermath of those votes that the federal government had “bigger fish to fry” than cracking down on marijuana use in states where it’s considered legal.
    Most drug enforcement operations are carried out by state and local authorities, with little involvement by the federal government. Enforcing marijuana laws has been considered a lower priority for federal drug agents, who have remained focused on curbing narcotics trafficking and combating a nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse.
    Spicer on Thursday, however, linked marijuana use with the widespread abuse of painkillers, suggesting that allowing recreational use of marijuana could be interpreted as condoning drug use more widely.
    “When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people,” Spicer said. “There is still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and drugs of that nature.”
    He was careful to distinguish between use of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. President Donald Trump, he said, understood that marijuana could help ease suffering for patients with terminal illnesses.
    Trump took varying positions on marijuana during his campaign for president. He said during remarks in June 2015 that legal recreational use was “bad,” adding he felt “strongly about it.”
    But later that year he suggested the issue should be decided by individual states and not by the federal government.
    “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” he said in Nevada in October 2015.
    He’s remained staunchly supportive of medical marijuana, telling Fox News host Bill O’Reilly he was “in favor of medical marijuana 100%.”
    “I know people that have serious problems and they did that they really — it really does help them,” he said.