U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa optimistic about Donald Trump presidency | TheUnion.com

U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa optimistic about Donald Trump presidency

U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa has never been a fan of marijuana.

The Republican representative for California’s 1st Congressional District, however, isn’t certain the tide will shift against medical and recreational cannabis, despite the possible installation of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions as the attorney general.

Seven states, California included, now permit recreational pot or will once newly passed laws take effect. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, though federal prosecutors under President Barack Obama have mostly steered clear of smaller amounts in states that permit medical cannabis.

Some marijuana advocates fear that Sessions, R-Ala., could bring a return of the drug war if he becomes the next attorney general. The Drug Policy Alliance opposes Sessions’ appointment to the position.

“I wasn’t happy with Prop 64,” LaMalfa said of the Nov. 8 statewide measure that legalized recreational pot in California.

“I oppose it and I’ll always oppose it,” he added moments later.

LaMalfa, however, questions how much time the federal government is willing to spend on drug laws in states that have medicinal and recreational pot. He pointed to Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, noting its governor has been “wishy-washy” about the change.

Supporters and opponents of legal cannabis point to different studies about the state, arguing marijuana has helped its economy or increased its problems, respectively.

“Maybe we’ll learn the hard way firsthand,” LaMalfa said.

LaMalfa was re-elected this month to a third term. Days later in the Republican caucus he voted for U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan to remain Speaker of the House.

Congress will take a formal vote on the speakership early next year. LaMalfa said the voice vote in the caucus meeting was unanimous.

“He really wants it to be a member-driven deal, not a top-down deal,” he said, adding later, “He’s a good guy trying to do the best he can within the system.”

Ryan and Trump clashed at times during the presidential campaign. LaMalfa supported Trump.

LaMalfa’s opponent, Democrat Jim Reed, tried to use that support for Trump in political ads. LaMalfa won with almost 60 percent of the vote.

The congressman noted that Trump took Rust Belt states that pollsters anticipated would go for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“They’re looking at their jobs,” LaMalfa said of voters. “Their jobs are being exported and they’ve finally caught up to the idea that the Democrats aren’t doing anything for them.”

Trump is poised to implement his policy goals, with a Republican-led Congress prepped to take control next year. LaMalfa said he believes people will discover they agree with the new president on several issues.

“I’m optimistic,” LaMalfa said. “I think he really does care about the American people.”

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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