As reported by Bloomberg, twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico allow medical marijuana use. In the budget that President Donald Trump signed on Friday, Congress provided no funds for federal enforcement against state medical marijuana laws.
However, in a statement that Trump also signed on Friday, he indicated that he may ignore the congressional ban. Trump argued that he isn’t legally bound by limits lawmakers imposed on him, because his constitutional prerogatives supersede congressional restrictions as a condition for funding government operations.
Trump’s statement is in line with the views expressed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions has re-iterated his support for a federal crackdown. And, he has claimed that its medical use is “desperate.”
Experts question Trump’ authority to usurp power from the legislative branch as well as the states.
Tim Shaw, a senior policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said that Trump is bound by the language in the spending bill that he signed.
“Part of the argument here in this signing statement is that he has the constitutional requirement to execute the law,” Shaw says. “But this is one of those laws, and Congress has the ultimate authority over funds getting spent.’’
Steve Bell, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, former staff director of the Senate Budget Committee and a former aide to Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), concurs and adds that Trump’s views may be unconstitutional.
“It is the constitutional prerogative of the Congress to spend money and to put limitations on spending.” Bell continues, “This is an extremely broad assertion of executive branch power over the purse.”
Bell also points out that Trump’s views about enforcing federal law over states’ rights was at odds the 10th Amendment that protects states from federal overreach.
Trump also stated that he may ignore gender and racial preferences for some government programs as well as congressional requirements for advance notice before engaging in a range of foreign policy and military actions..