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Trump wants to override state law on marijuana? Not on my watch

Jesse Ventura
Katie Kramer | CNBC
Jesse Ventura

When Donald Trump was announced the winner of the 2016 presidential election, I said I was going to wait and see what happens. People promise all kinds of things when they run for office. President Obama vowed to close Gitmo. President HW Bush said "read my lips, no more taxes." So I gave President Trump a chance. But his plans to have the DEA come into states like Colorado where marijuana is legal and tell legal recreational marijuana users that they are breaking federal law and therefore must be prosecuted? Not on my watch.

It is completely wrong and unethical — not to mention unconstitutional—to reverse state law just because you feel like it. Shame on President Trump for even considering this.

Donald Trump ran his campaign as "a man of the people." Someone who vowed to end the corporate takeover of our government; someone who vowed to bring jobs back. Reversing state law and making legalized recreational marijuana illegal is going against the people's will. This is going against job creation and a reliable part of a state's economy. The citizens of these states voted to make recreational marijuana legal. It wasn't the politicians, it was We The People. The latest Gallup Poll shows 60 percent of Americans want legal marijuana! Obviously President Trump is following in the footsteps of every president that came before him: He thinks the government knows what is best for us. He's been president for a little over a month, and he's already forgotten that "We the People" are the government!

I'm sending President Trump a copy of my book "Jesse Ventura's Marijuana Manifesto" because he and Sean Spicer aren't getting their information about marijuana from scientific studies. In what world does marijuana use lead to opioid addiction? I have a list of scientific studies that I cite in my book—most of which I pulled directly from the National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine—that show the exact opposite. Marijuana is used in rehab settings to successfully curb alcohol, cocaine, meth, heroin and opioid addiction.

"People promise all kinds of things when they run for office. ... So I gave President Trump a chance. But his plans to have the DEA come into states like Colorado where marijuana is legal and tell legal recreational marijuana users that they are breaking federal law and therefore must be prosecuted? Not on my watch."

Let's also use common sense here: If marijuana use did lead to opioid addiction, and that's why we have a national heroin/opioid epidemic—because of legalized marijuana—then why is it that we have more people who use marijuana than we do people who are addicted to opioids? Wouldn't every person who uses marijuana wind up a heroin/opioid addict? Wouldn't every person who uses recreational marijuana in states like Colorado and Washington wind up in rehab for opioids and heroin? Mr. President, can you explain to me, why is it that heroin and opioid addiction is decreasing in states where marijuana is legal? But, hey, don't take my word for it, Mr. President. The federal government has research studies with this information readily available online for free, so feel free to look them up on https://www.nlm.nih.gov/.

Here's a dangerously related issue that greatly angers me: President Trump is also planning on reinstating private prisons! Let's connect the dots: Private prisons need to be 80 percent to 90 percent full to be profitable. If they aren't, then states pay a fine. Non-violent drug offenders make it possible for private prisons to be full—that's why the vast majority of people locked up in private prisons are non-violent drug offenders. So if President Trump reverses legalized recreational marijuana, we'll continue to have a need for private prisons and private prisons will remain full. That's his plan, people. Look into who gave big "donations" to his SuperPAC, and you'll find out why.

As NORML tweeted last week to President Trump, "if you want to try to assault state marijuana legalization laws, to use your own words, we'll #SeeYouInCourt." Which will be interesting. Will the states win this war on marijuana? Over half of the states in our country have legalized marijuana in some way. (That means the majority of the country, Mr. President.) And according to the Los Angeles Times, lawmakers in 17 states have introduced more than two dozen measures to legalize recreational pot use for adults this year.

Congressman Tom Garrett just introduced the "Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act 2017" on Feb. 27, so when Attorney General Jeff Sessions told legislatures to change the laws if they don't want the feds coming after legal recreational marijuana users, our legislatures were listening. If passed, this bill would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list and put it in the same category as the alcohol and tobacco industries. If you want Congressman Garrett and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard to be successful in passing this new legalization, it's now up to you as a citizen to call your representatives and tell them to get on board. This bill was originally introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders in 2015, and there was not enough bi-partisan support to see it go anywhere. That could change if We The People put our elected officials' feet to the fire by calling and writing them and telling them to vote in favor of this bill.

Whether you live in a state where marijuana is legal or not, think about this: New Frontier Data published a report that shows the legal cannabis market was worth an estimated $7.2 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17 percent. Adult recreational sales are projected to jump from $2.6 billion in 2016 to $11.2 billion by 2020—that's data compiled from the few states that legalized recreational marijuana prior to 2016 (Colorado, Washington, DC, Alaska, and Oregon). Dispensaries in Colorado alone sold $1.3 billion of legal cannabis in 2016, up from $996 million in 2015. Forbes reported that during the 2014-15 fiscal year Colorado took in $70 million, nearly twice as much revenue than the state earned from alcohol taxes.

If President Trump has his way, get ready. The corporations that run private prisons will be thriving. If more people are exercising their right to weed more frequently than their right to alcohol, then that's a lot of folks to put behind bars.

Commentary by Jesse Ventura, the former governor of Minnesota and the author of "Jesse Ventura's Marijuana Manifesto" (Sept. 6 2016). He is also the host of "The World According to Jesse," an all new variety news show coming to RT America this summer. He was a Navy SEAL and is a Vietnam veteran. He was also a professional wrestler from 1975 to 1986 under the ring name Jesse "The Body" Ventura. Follow him on Twitter @GovJVentura.

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