It’s been a wild few weeks in the medical marijuana industry, to say the least.
If you own or work for a dispensary – or you’re a supplier to the industry – you must be sweating bullets.
The federal government is sending a host of mixed signals, as this New York Times wrap-up of recent events points out.
From the article: “Federal prosecutors are suddenly asserting themselves, authorizing raids and sending strongly worded letters that have cast new uncertainty on an issue that has long brimmed with tension between federal and state law.”
It’s hard to say how all of this will shake out. I can’t imagine the government would look to completely wipe out the livelihoods of thousands of small business owners and their employees. On the other hand, medical marijuana remains illegal under federal law, so it’s conceivable that a bigger crackdown is on the horizon.
I guess it all depends on the reasons behind the government’s recent moves. If the Obama administration is in effect simply trying to clean up the industry – which has gotten out of hand in some states with little regulation – this could benefit responsible dispensaries in the long run. We all know there are plenty of loopholes in the current structure that pave the way for shady characters to enter the scene. Clearer laws and a streamlined regulatory system would help eliminate some of the more questionable elements of the industry and further help legitimize your businesses.
If, on the other hand, the government has something else in mind, we might be in for a protracted battle between individual states and Washington.
Either way, it’s an extremely confusing time for the sector. The government’s recent moves have already had a “chilling effect” on the dispensary scene in places like Rhode Island.
Until – and if – the government clarifies its position on this issue, expect the unexpected and get used to dealing with uncertainty on a daily basis.