Cole Memo author joins National Cannabis Roundtable as adviser

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The National Cannabis Roundtable announced the formation of a new advisory board this week, and its members include former Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole, the author of several influential U.S. Department of Justice memos that paved the road for the modern U.S. marijuana market nearly a decade ago.

Cole joins several other major political figures from both sides of the aisle already associated with NCR, including:

  • Former House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican.
  • Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat.
  • Former U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican.

“Cannabis reform is incredibly complicated not least because of the robust state marketplaces, which have developed under federal prohibition,” Cole said in a news release.

Cole added that he’s “looking forward” to being part of the federal legalization debate as Congress continues grappling with marijuana-related bills such as the MORE Act, the SAFE Banking Act and the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act.

Cole, who served in the Obama administration’s DOJ from 2010 to 2015, was the principal author of three separate memos.

The most influential of those likely was in 2013, after Colorado and Washington State voters approved recreational legalization in 2012. The memo effectively gave both states the green light to go ahead with marijuana sales to all adults 21 and older without federal intervention.

Though all of Cole’s memos were rescinded in 2018 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, their permissiveness allowed the cannabis industry to truly take root across the country without fear of reprisals by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

And that climate has led the marijuana business to its current status as one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation.