Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live


Congressman Issa Distances Himself From Trump Administration Policies

San Diego Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, Jan. 5, 2018
San Diego Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, Jan. 5, 2018

San Diego Republican congressman Darrell Issa is putting some distance between himself and the Trump administration when it comes to enforcing federal laws on marijuana and reopening oil drilling off California’s coast.

The nine-term congressman faces four Democratic challengers in the mid-term elections this year.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions added another layer of confusion to budding businesses retailing legalized recreational marijuana in California when he said he would rescind Obama-era policies that turned a blind eye to marijuana in states where it’s legal. During an interview at KPBS, Issa said opioids should be a higher priority.


“I would hope they would prioritize those drugs, and if they are going to enforce against marijuana, that they do so as much as possible against people who perhaps are trafficking in both. You know often they can get a conviction on a drug trafficker on one drug when they know they’re doing both. When I’ve talked to our U.S. Attorney, that happens to be our U.S. Attorney in San Diego’s priority: to start with an order of crimes...not to ignore marijuana, but not to make it the highest priority for obvious reasons,” he said.

Issa also said more money should be invested in research about the risks and benefits of marijuana.

The congressman also questioned the need to issue new oil and gas drilling leases off the California coast. This week, President Trump's Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, proposed opening dozens of new oil leases in the Pacific Ocean from California to Alaska, as well as in the Gulf of Mexico.

The proposal has prompted angry opposition from Governor Jerry Brown and other Democratic leaders. Issa added his voice to the opposition Friday.

“I hope we can be more responsive with our on-shore exploration in Bakersfield and other areas,” he said, “but the reality is we have plenty of oil and natural gas without going off the California coast...and I think that's an area you will see delegations coming together.”


The California coast has been off limits to new oil drilling leases since 1984.

Issa, who has served nine terms in Congress, narrowly retained his seat against Democratic challenger Doug Applegate in 2016. His district stretches from Dana Point in Orange County through North County's coastal communities to La Jolla.