Eight out of the nine state cannabis ballot initiatives passed on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s Most Uncertain Winner: Cannabis- Four states, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine, all voted to legalize recreational cannabis sales for all adults, while North Dakota, Montana, Florida and Arkansas all voted to allow patients access to medical marijuana.
The importance of this election to the future of the cannabis industry can not be overstated. This expansion is expected to grow the industry by at least $8 Billion, and stretch its reach all the way to New England. California’s market is enormous; as a stand-alone economy, it is already the 8th largest in the world.
However, we should not get ahead of ourselves in rejoicing too soon. These ballot victories for cannabis are all still subject to the whims of the Federal Government. The Cole Memo, a Department of Justice memo to US Attornies throughout the United States, did not legalize cannabis or change US drug policy. As far as the DEA is concerned, cannabis is still equivalent to heroin and if the next US Attorney General demands a more aggressive policy towards cannabis, then the entire national cannabis industry could quickly come to a screeching halt.
Former US Attorney and current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is one leading contender for the nation’s top law enforcement official. Another is Rudy Guliani, former New York City mayor famous for his harsh law enforcement policies, including racial profiling and the adherence to the “broken windows” philosophy.
If Christie were to take power, he has repeatedly assured the public that he would put an end to the cannabis industry. Guliani has made himself very clear that, as a former prosecutor, he is “very opposed to marijuana legalization.”
Trump himself claims to be in favor of medical marijuana on a state-by-state basis, but this vague position doesn’t give us any indication on his thoughts about such important reforms such as interstate trade, federal intellectual property protection, tax reform, and industrial hemp production. It also may not matter if he appoints anti-pot goons who intend to shut us down.
We’ve come a long way, and we’ve had many victories, but our fight is far from over. This entire industry still teeters on the edge. The Obama administration saw fit to not interfere, but not help us either. What the Trump administration will do is anyone’s guess.
Ammon Ford | November 10, 2016