Fourteen federal agencies, along with the DEA, are working to construct an anti-cannabis propaganda campaign in the face of growing legalization across the United States, according to an exclusive report from Buzzfeed News.
The outlet says it viewed memos and documents from the Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee that show the White House has instructed these 14 agencies to compile “data demonstrating the most significant negative trends” of cannabis and the threats it poses.
“‘The prevailing marijuana narrative in the U.S. is partial, one-sided, and inaccurate,’ says a summary of a July 27 meeting of the White House and nine departments,” Buzzfeed News reported.
The committee met with the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and State during that meeting, and that committee, which is an operation of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, then instructed additional agencies, including “Defense, Education, Transportation and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency” to “submit two-page, bulleted fact sheets that identify marijuana threats and issues with the initiatives by Aug. 10.”
The departments were told to “identify marijuana threats; issues created by state marijuana initiatives; and consequences of use, production, and trafficking on national health, safety, and security,” but have apparently not been instructed to identify benefits.
“Neither the ONDCP officials or White House press office responded to requests from BuzzFeed News to comment on the committee,” Buzzfeed News reported, though it noted that the Department of Education acknowledged it had submitted the requested documents on time. The State Department referred the outlet to the ONDCP.
President Trump has publicly expressed support for congressional legislation that would end the federal government’s blanket ban on cannabis and respect states’ rights. In contrast, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has declared his hardline opposition to the plant, and White House staff apparently believe the administration will be ‘turning the tide.’ According to a summary of the July 27 meeting:
“Staff believe that if the administration is to turn the tide on increasing marijuana use there is an urgent need to message the facts about the negative impacts of marijuana use, production, and trafficking on national health, safety, and security.”
A statement from a White House spokesperson offered a vaguer assessment.
“The Trump Administration’s policy coordination process is an internal, deliberative process to craft the President’s policies on a number of important issues facing the American people, and ensure consistency with the President’s agenda,” Lindsay Walters, Deputy White House Press Secretary, told BuzzFeed News.
It seems unlikely that the federal government can “turn the tide” on the public’s growing support for legalization as even the FDA and DEA soften their opposition. A majority of Americans — including many Republicans — support legalization.