Monday, January 23, 2017

Forbes: "Five Ways that Trump May or May Not Affect Legal Cannabis, Maybe"

The news media is normally speculative, but lately it seems like the whirlwind of what-ifs and might-bes associated with the newly inaugurated Trump administration has every reporter's head spinning. This confusion is, of course, a by-product of covering Trump himself, as he routinely backtracks and makes contradictory statements. But there's also the fact that all this juicy speculation makes for some extra-tempting click bait.

Consider this round-up of headlines from various websites, procured through a simple Google search:

"What if Trump is worse than Obama?"


"Many What-Ifs in Donald Trump’s Plan for Migrants"

And, as usual, CNN had the weirdest/most subtly violent headline, running with this on January 19:

"Assassination of Trump Would Keep Obama’s Administration in Power"

I'll leave the rest of the internet to contend with CNN's poor choice of headline and "story," but the point I'm making is that this kind of useless speculo-journalism seems to have increased as one of the most controversial presidents in history begins his first term, and no issue, not even cannabis, has escaped.

Legal marijuana got the "What if Trump does X?" treatment in a recent Forbes piece, seemingly written by that person who looks at the sky and shrugs when you ask them if it's going to rain today. The article listed a bunch of hypothetical approaches Trump could take with the cannabis industry, starting with:

"1) The Trump administration takes the nuclear option and wages war against both recreational and medical marijuana"

I'd just like to point out that using the phrase "The Trump administration takes the nuclear option" is NOT AT ALL appropriate when discussing a topic like weed. Unfortunately, I have a feeling we will need to save that phrase for when the administration is literally considering "the nuclear option."

Far-too-strong phrasing aside, the writer notes that the administration "could just rip up the Cole Memorandum" (the 2013 declaration by the Justice Department that basically promised to leave state-run marijuana programs alone), and "they could close businesses and seize assets."

But they could also not, right? WHOA! Per Forbes, here are the other possibilities for legal weed under Trump. To help you grasp the true futility of this kind of writing, I've translated the article's list of possibilities into responses from that unhelpful stranger whom you just regretted asking about the weather:

"2) Medical marijuana is left in place, but recreational use is terminated."

Bizarre suggestion, since the federal government still doesn't actually accept marijuana as a medicine. But then again, I guess it could only rain a little bit.

"3) Existing markets are left alone, but new states delayed or blocked."

 Ah yes, the old, "stop the expansion of slavery, not slavery itself" approach. It could rain somewhere else, maybe, but not where it's already sunny.

"4) Status quo remains - nothing changes."

It could keep on not raining!

"5) The Trump administration openly supports the cannabis industry."

 It might not rain again!

My lengthy diatribe aside, this article can be summarized in two words: Wasted. Bandwidth. But Forbes was not the only one to publish a hollow piece about the Trump administration's potential weed policy. On January 17, an article on TheHill.com let slip the spectacularly obvious when it declared, "no one knows what the Trump administration will do about marijuana." The piece went on to list many of the same vague "options" as the Forbes article.

By the way, I hold nothing against the authors of either of these articles. At worst, the writers are simply trying to get their name and their views out there in the only way today's online media seems to know how: in chunks of click bait that tantalize a target audience (in this case, stoners), but actually contribute nothing to the broader discourse on the subject. 

I'm sure Forbes, or CNN (why hasn't CNN done this yet?), or any other news group could fill its online servers with 200 more of these kinds of stories, about the "five ways that the Trump administration might affect ... anything that's important to anyone": "Five Ways the Trump Administration Could Affect the Used Car Industry!" "Five Ways the Trump Administration Could Affect Craft Brewing!" "Five Ways the Trump Administration Could Make You Miss Your 6:45 Flight to Newark!"
 
Of course, I have no doubt that there will be much to discuss about the Trump administration's marijuana policy, but unlike Forbes and many other news agencies, the Hempiricist will wait until the administration actually has a marijuana policy before offering comment.

In the meantime, making fun of awful, pointless articles on the internet is an enjoyable way to pass the time!



No comments:

Post a Comment