President Donald Trump ruminates about the effects of marijuana on IQ points and traffic accidents in Colorado in comments recorded secretly at a 2018 dinner with donors, including a central figure in the Ukraine scandal that led to the president's impeachment.
Trump talks about marijuana legalization for about five minutes with others at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., during an hour-long conversation recorded in a video on an iPhone.
The video, released Saturday by an attorney for Lev Parnas, an indicted businessman who worked to pressure Ukraine with the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, made headlines for Trump's remarks about then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
“Get rid of her," Trump says in the recording, made on April 30, 2018. "Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Take her out. OK? Do it.”
About 45 minutes into the wide-ranging discussion, Parnas asks Trump to consider allowing companies involved in the marijuana industry to access banks and later urges the president to embrace legalization as a strategy to boost his popularity with younger voters.
"It's all working out," Trump says at one point. "I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing." A moment later, he asks, “Do you think the whole marijuana thing is a good thing?”
"No," an unidentified woman responds, but Parnas disagrees.
"I do," he says. "It's something that's the future, no matter how you look at it. I think that it's something that's already so far out that you're not going to stop it. I think you need to be ahead of it. And I think you need to control it."
Trump expresses skepticism about the effects of marijuana in Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational pot.
“In Colorado, they have more accidents,” Trump says, adding, “It does cause an IQ problem.”
A man identified as Donald Trump Jr., Trump's oldest son, interjects: “I will say this, between that and alcohol, as far as I’m concerned, alcohol does much more damage. You don’t see people beating their wives on marijuana. It’s just different."
Parnas recommends Trump establish a bipartisan committee without politicians "so you can know what's going on and make the right decision." He adds: “By just putting the committee together, it will give you such a boost in the midterm with a lot of the millennials."
Trump sounds noncommittal, and the conversation moves on to other topics.
Peter Marcus, communications director for Boulder-based cannabis company Terrapin Care Station and a former Colorado Politics reporter, called Trump's comment about marijuana lowering IQ "silly" but cautioned against reading too much into it.
"The president has overall been willing to engage with stakeholders on finding practical approaches to addressing legalization as it expands nationally. He has had regular conversations with Sen. (Cory) Gardner over cannabis banking reform expressing an openness to reach a solution," Marcus told Colorado Politics.
"It’s hard to really take the president’s comment too seriously because it’s not based in any sense of reality," Marcus added.
While one study found that frequent marijuana use starting in adolescence can lead to a slight drop in IQ, other more recent studies weren't able to establish a link between marijuana and declines in IQ.
Studies have also returned conflicting results when it comes to legalized pot and an increase in automobile crashes. One study determined that fatal crashes involving marijuana in Washington doubled after the state legalized the drug, but a national study didn't find a clear causal relation.
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