But the future of this industry is uncertain thanks to an announcement from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“People are going, ‘where is this really going?”
US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the US would undo an Obama-era action and explore new offshore oil drilling, including off the coast of California, where there have been no new leases granted in decades. “But now, even somebody who follows their state’s law is a criminal”.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a one-page memo to all U.S. Attorneys telling them “marijuana is a unsafe drug and that marijuana activity is a serious crime” and “previous nationwide guidance specific to marijuana enforcement is unnecessary and is rescinded, effective immediately”. “We have a younger, newer, more educated population who will vote that out”. He was nominated by President Donald Trump in September and later was confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
“Washington voters led the way in legalizing marijuana five years ago, taking an important step in reducing mass incarceration, strengthening public health, and bolstering our economy – and I will fight for them”.
President Trump, during his campaign for the White House, pledged to leave legalization up to the states, a topic we previously examined.
On Dec. 28, the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association had already suffered a setback, when a state Supreme Court justice dismissed its lawsuit meant to block health officials from doubling the number of companies permitted to grow and distribute medical marijuana in New York.
That sort of casual looking the other way by cannabis small business owners came to an end on January 1, when California became the sixth state to roll out recreational marijuana sales.
The decision sparked fresh pressure on Congress to act to remove marijuana from the official federal list of risky drugs, which would ease the threat to pot users and businesses. As the Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said, “I would encourage people not to freak out”. According to Cy Scott, the founder of Headset, a marijuana data company, prices dropped in Washington’s legal market from $50 to $15 for a gram of marijuana about 12 months after the first day of legal sales.
“This is the continuation of Trump’s attack on California”, he said. Humboldt County, California gets the green light: How business is changing as America’s marijuana epicenter goes legal.
Regulators pledged on Thursday they would push ahead with implementation of the state’s voter-approved recreational marijuana law despite potential confusion stemming from a shift in official US policy on enforcement of federal laws against pot.
Cannabis growers, sellers and financial institutions supporting them, a roughly US$7 billion (RM28 billion) industry, are particularly under threat by the move, and the lack of clarity on how toughly federal anti-pot laws will be enforced will make it hard for any to build their young businesses, industry experts said. “States’ rights is an argument they trot out when it’s convenient”.
“At a time of broad public support for marijuana legalization and criminal justice reform, we should be moving forward – not going back to outdated and harmful policies that do little to enhance public safety and disproportionately hurt people of color”. In theory, buying a joint, loose weed or a hash brownie should be as easy as finding a craft beer, but options are few as some cities have rejected retail sales and others have taken a more mellow approach toward licensing operations. “That uncertainty alone makes many investors uncomfortable and can hamper a company operating in the space”. Industry advocates say Sessions’ announcement will likely dissuade large investors who were already anxious about an industry that remains entirely illegal at the federal level. California’s isn’t just the richest and biggest USA state. The agency that regulates marijuana, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control, has a complete and updated list of licensed dispensaries on its website.