The Trump administration signaled today it intends to step up enforcement of federal law banning the recreational use of marijuana.
Is pot in the hot seat?
Local businesses were caught off guard after Press Secretary Sean Spicer hinted that there would be "greater enforcement" of recreational marijuana.
"There's a big difference between (medical marijuana) and recreational marijuana," said Spicer in a news conference Thursday. "And I think 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."
Dr. James Lathrop, owner of Cannabis City in Seattle, said the only distinction between medical and recreational marijuana is access, and connecting marijuana to opioid addiction is misleading.
"The comments are very concerning," Lathrop said. "In states that have enacted marijuana laws, there's actually been a decrease in opioid addiction and opioid deaths."
Marijuana producer Kevin Maschek, CEO of Dynamic Harvest, said he, too, will not disrupt daily operations based on Spicer's comments.
"Under the Obama administration, whatever the states decided with their voters, they were just going to let them do whatever they wanted, and I think the Trump administration is going to do the same thing," Maschek said.
Both businessmen pointed to large tax revenues as overwhelming proof of the success of legalizing marijuana.
"The state has hit a homerun with it," said Maschek. "I mean tax revenues they're collecting are incredible."
Lathrop said he pays $150,000 in tax revenue every month to the state.
The State of Washington responded to Spicer's comments in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying in part, "Our state's efforts to regulate the sale of marijuana are succeeding. We ask that DOJ maintain the policies set forth in the Cole Memorandum, or that DOJ engage with our state and others before considering any changes to those policies."
The enforcement of marijuana, by law, lies with the Department of Justice.
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