Donald Trump voiced his support for medical cannabis on the campaign trail. He almost immediately reversed course, nominating Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. The Americans who depend on cannabis, who number over a million, have been nervous ever since as Trump and Sessions have given vague clues that they may go after state programs. Now, Trump’s provided as clear a clue as ever that his campaign promises were complete lies, with his tacit endorsement of another country’s drug war.
The White House announced Monday that Trump will meet with Rodrigo Duterte, the dictator of the Philippines. Duterte is best known for his war on drugs, which has left over 5,000 people dead, most shot down in the street without so much as an arrest warrant. Do you remember Trump’s reaction to the extrajudicial killings? In a phone call with Duterte on April 29, Trump said, “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem.”
There’s nothing like a dictator killing his own citizens to warm Trump’s heart.
The meeting with Duterte, on his home turf in Manila, may also be a subtle dig at Obama. Last September, Duterte called Obama a “son of a bitch.” Perhaps Trump saw a kindred soul, someone who was equally crass and made equally unsophisticated insults about our president. However, none of that will stop the visit from being interpreted as an endorsement of Duterte’s violent and illegal approach to drugs.
Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia allow medical cannabis use. 86% of American voters think that medical use should be legal. The Republicans claim that they favor states’ rights, personal responsibility, and limited government. Yet Trump seems to think that shooting drug users in the street is a laudable approach to drug policy.