By ROBERT BROWNSTEIN-DICKALLOT, Associated PressAssociated PressWASHINGTON (AP) An effort to legalize recreational marijuana is expected to become law in some states, while others will not, in what is the first time a presidential administration has backed legalization of the drug.
The White House says it will let states decide if they want to join the legal recreational market, but that it will not sign any legislation legalizing marijuana.
The administration has been pressing states to legalize marijuana and has pledged to give states more flexibility in how to regulate the industry.
The White House announced its new position in a series of tweets on Tuesday morning.
It’s up to states to decide if this is something they want, not the federal government, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
But he said the president “does believe the federal policy is wrong and that this is a matter that should be left up to the states.
This is not the kind of policy that has to be decided by a legislature, it’s the kind that’s made in the states by the voters of those states.
It’s the law of the land.”
The president has been leading the fight to legalize and tax the drug since the Obama administration’s 2014 position memo that said states could legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use, and was signed by former President Barack Obama in late 2016.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies have said they will continue enforcing federal drug laws.
The Justice Department said Tuesday that it has taken a leading role in developing a national strategy to end the drug war.
It would be unprecedented for the White House to issue a formal policy position that would directly contradict the position taken by the administration of former President Donald Trump, who in July 2016 said he would end federal prohibition and legalize recreational pot.
Trump said he thought legalization was “the way to go.”
The White Senate has been working on a bill that would legalize recreational use of marijuana and allow for more oversight of the industry, and a proposal is expected in Congress soon.
The Senate voted in May to begin debating a bill on the issue, but the Senate has not taken up it.
The House passed its own version of the legislation last week.