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Activists Say the White House Trying to Make Legal Marijuana Scary Is a Sign They're Winning

They dismiss a presidential task force charged with anti-legalization messaging as "the death rattle of prohibition."

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The current administration in Washington certainly has its controversies, but one has largely flown under the radar: the Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee.

Johannes Spahn/EyeEm | Getty Images

The bland, bureaucratic name seems contradictory to its alleged goal, which is to counteract positive messages about the legalization of marijuana. Some are concerned the committee’s larger purpose is to temper or even turn the trend in the last few years of more Americans supporting legalized cannabis.

First reported by Buzzfeed, the committee’s existence has drawn relatively little attention as the media and the public focus on issues such as the Russia investigation and the anonymous New York Times editorial about the inside workings of President Donald Trump’s White House.

But the committee’s goal is nothing less than to portray marijuana as a national threat, according to documents obtained by Buzzfeed.

Related: Is 2018 the Year Legal Cannabis Finally Comes of Age?

Multi-Agency Effort

The Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee is part of the White House’s independent National Office of Drug Control Policy. The committee has directed 14 different federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, to give the committee data on negative trends associated with marijuana and areas where it poses a threat to the nation.

A memo from a July 27 committee meeting obtained by Buzzfeed stated that publicly released information on legalized marijuana has been “partial, one-sided, and inaccurate.” Rather than seeking objective information, the committee is seeking information from the other side of the argument.

For marijuana supporters, this all smacks of the prohibition movement against marijuana launched in the 1930s that culminated in marijuana becoming a Schedule I illegal drug during the Nixon Administration in the 1970s.

Related: Why the Word 'Recreational' Should Be Retired

Death rattle of prohibition.

Justin Strekal, political director of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said in a statement that the committee’s actions “are the death rattle of marijuana prohibition.”

“Those who seek to maintain the oppressive policies of cannabis criminalization are grasping at straws in their effort to undo the public policy progresses that have now been enacted in a majority of states,” he said.

The committee’s directives also are “biased and unscientific,” Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, told Salon.

Related: Coca-Cola Is 'In Talks' to Make Marijuana-Infused Drinks

Contradicting Trump?

Smith also pointed out that the committee’s objectives contradict what Trump said earlier this year about supporting states’ rights on the issue of marijuana. Trump actually said he would “probably” support the issue.

Plenty of people were concerned about that “probably.”

In the weeks since the Buzzfeed article, there’s been mostly silence from the White House on the marijuana issue. The only comment, reported in the original Buzzfeed article, came from deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters.

She said the committee’s work is part of an “internal, deliberative process” to develop policies that are “ensure consistency with the President’s agenda." What that agenda is when it comes to cannabis remains as opaque as ever.

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