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Trump's next drug move: Cannabis liberalization?

In our current Part B News issue, experts weigh in on President Trump's next course of action after the recent failure of his Part D safe harbor reform. The consensus is that he'll probably go hard on drug price limits. But one expert thinks he may try to free the weed instead.

Harry Nelson -- co-managing partner of the Nelson Hardiman law firm in Los Angeles and a health care policy expert whose latest book is The United States of Opioids -- felt that Trump would be more inclined to hang back from the price-fixing scheme he proposed last year. But Nelson has "heard a rumor" that the President has another trick up his sleeve.

There's been some controversy in recent years over how the federal government should handle the wave of marijuana decriminalization and legalization in the states. The Food and Drug Administration still has weed on Schedule 1, but in 2013 Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole issued a memo that had the feds to some extent stand down on enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that had legalized it. Last year, however, Trump's then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime drug warrior, repudiated the Cole memo.

But Sessions' belligerence "got some backlash" from high-ranking Republicans like Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, says Nelson, and "Trump and [Jared] Kushner made some friendly noises" about liberalizing the policy.  Now that Sessions is gone, "I think you could see some liberalization on cannabis -- maybe they take it off Schedule 1," says Nelson. "It would appeal to young voters -- in fact every age cohort you go down, you see decriminalization support increases – only the 60-and-over voters are evenly divided on it." Could Trump Goes To Pot be the new Nixon Goes to China?

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