Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions has already taken a strong stance against legal weed, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer recently shared his opinion, saying at a press conference that though the Trump administration isn't trying to end the distribution of medical marijuana, recreational pot could be a gateway drug.
"I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing that we should be doing is encouraging people," he said, according to The Washington Post. "There's still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature."
But, as Vice points out, there's little evidence to support this claim. Firstly, the most common source of opioid addiction appears to be prescription painkillers. Misuse of prescription opioids more than doubled between 2001 and 2012, a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism study found. Deaths resulting from them nearly doubled from 2002 to 2011, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. And prescription painkillers accounted for almost half of the 33,000 opioid-related deaths in 2015, according to the CDC.
"We know why there's an opioid addiction epidemic. ... I don't think there is really debate," Andrew Kolodny, MD, co-director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management, told CNN. "It's because we have overexposed the population to prescription opioids."
If anything, weed legalization could prevent opioid addiction. A study in Health Affairs found that in states where medical marijuana is legal, physicians prescribe fewer alternatives. And marijuana can be an alternative to opioids, since research has found it to be an effective pain reliever, according to WebMD.
In fact, some doctors are using marijuana to treat opioid addiction. "As soon as we can get people off opioids to a nonaddicting substance — and medicinal marijuana is nonaddicting — I think it would dramatically impact the amount of opioid deaths," Gary Witman, MD, told The Boston Herald.