President Trump: Election surprise creates huge uncertainties for cannabis industry

By Marijuana Business Daily staff

Donald Trump’s upset election victory is causing consternation in the marijuana industry even though seven states legalized medical or recreational cannabis and another paved the way for MMJ businesses.

Executives are uncertain of what a Trump presidency means in terms of federal regulations and enforcement, with some fearing an eventual crackdown.

Still, other industry officials and experts suggested the state-level victories could ultimately lead to some positive marijuana-related steps at the federal level, including reform of banking laws and Section 280E of the federal tax code.

They also suggested a Trump administration would generally lay off the industry, although a Republican-dominated government could reduce the odds it would legalize cannabis anytime soon.

“As far as we’re concerned, if the federal policy is the status quo, then the states will continue moving forward and we will see successes in the future, as well as being able to implement the laws that were passed yesterday,” said Marijuana Policy Project chief Rob Kampia.

Vivien Azer, a senior research analyst for Cowen Group, a New York investment bank, predicted to Bloomberg News that marijuana will be low on the list of priorities of a President Trump – although there could be a greater emphasis on enforcement.

During Tuesday’s election, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada voted to legalize recreational marijuana, while Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota approved medical cannabis initiatives. Montana, which legalized medical marijuana in 2004, also passed a measure to set up commercial cultivation operations and dispensaries.

Key federal memos

In many ways, the nation’s marijuana industry is predicated on a handful of memos from the U.S. Department of Justice: the Ogden and Cole Memos, which paved the way for a thriving medical cannabis marketplace and then adult-use trade after the latest Cole Memo was issued in 2013.

And there’s likely a good bit of fear and loathing rippling through cannabis business offices, especially given the prospect of Trump appointing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani as attorney general.

“There’s nothing in our law that protects adult use,” said Dale Sky Jones, the executive chancellor of Oaksterdam University in California. “The only thing I can hope for … is that Trump will choose not to care.”

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a press release that a Trump administration could jeopardize all of the gains that have been made by the cannabis movement and industry in recent years.

“The momentum for ending marijuana prohibition took a great leap forward with the victories in California and elsewhere, but the federal government retains the power to hobble much of what we’ve accomplished,” Nadelmann said. “The progress we’ve made … will be very much at risk when Donald Trump enters the White House.”

But there are others who remain hopeful, including the MPP’s Kampia and Oregon congressman Earl Blumenauer, who co-hosted a call with reporters Wednesday morning.

“It is obviously concerning, given some of the comments that people like Giuliani have made. But … there were millions of Trump supporters who were part of this movement in the states that voted on (pro-cannabis ballot measures on Tuesday),” Blumenauer said. “I do believe that the next administration will follow the policies of the Obama administration.”

Blumenauer further argued that the pro-cannabis coalition in Congress has now grown exponentially, with the addition of states such as Florida to the medical marijuana fold. That, in turn, means more lawmakers with pro-cannabis constituents to represent, which means more pressure in Washington DC to leave the industry alone. That would mean that the industry may continue unabated.

Cabinet uncertainty

On top of that, it’s far from certain whom Trump will appoint to his cabinet. The next attorney general could end up being neutral on cannabis, pointed out Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University.

“I think the nomination of Chris Christie for attorney general would open a can of worms that even Donald Trump would gag on,” Baker said, noting the “Bridgegate” scandal is still haunting the Republican governor. “I think people around Trump would urge him – if they were influential – and simply say, ‘Just steer clear of this one and go for a Michael Muchesie or Rudy Giuliani, just somebody that’s trailing him without a taint of illegality.’”

Baker further said more progress on cannabis-related reforms in Congress is a real possibility, and even said he could see the president-elect working with a congressman such as Blumenauer because Trump’s not an “orthodox Republican.”

“The climate could be more favorable to loosening up the federal laws around bank transactions, but there has to be somebody who Trump trusts willing to be the entrepreneur of that particular idea,” Baker said.

Blumenauer on Wednesday said that banking reform and 280E are still top priorities he believes could get through a GOP-controlled Congress during a Trump administration.

“These two provisions are teed up, and we will see action within the next two years to stop this discrimination against state-legal marijuana businesses. I think it will be supported on a bipartisan basis,” Blumenauer said.

Ready for a fight

But if the pendulum swings the other way, there are still those in the cannabis business who are willing to fight Trump and the DOJ tooth and nail.

Steve DeAngelo, the founder and CEO of Harborside Health Center in Oakland, began pumping his fist in the air Tuesday night when asked about the prospect of a Trump presidency. DeAngelo almost seemed to relish the thought of battling Trump and his next attorney general.

“We will be ready, and we will take them to court and kick their butts so bad the DOJ will never take anybody to court over cannabis again,” DeAngelo said. “Bring it on.”

John Schroyer, Bart Schaneman and Omar Sacirbey contributed to this article.

John Schroyer can be reached at [email protected]

Bart Schaneman can be reached at [email protected]

Omar Sacirbey can be reached at [email protected]

20 comments on “President Trump: Election surprise creates huge uncertainties for cannabis industry
  1. numb nuts on

    did you people even listen to any of trumps rally speeches?

    trump quotes on a daily basis
    we will solve the 22 vets a day and get them the help they need!
    we will cut the regulations ruining small farms!

    its hilary’s emails that shows clintons collusion with the banks and pharma

    wake up stoners
    its time to get to work!!

    Reply
  2. Brett Roper on

    With the continued expansion of various cannabis initiatives across the US this last election cycle, it is very unlikely that the new administration will want to dig back into the ‘reefer madness’ approach to the industry … there are billions in infrastructure and sales, growing weekly and thousands of jobs being created annually by the industry as a whole. Republican or not, this is not the kind of hot potato any administration is going to take on in light of all of the other challenges out there. Patience rather than petulance would be my suggestion. States rights will also play a role here as well.

    Reply
  3. Robert Hempaz, Phd Trichometry on

    D.T.’s a bizness man first. He’ll probably want a cut of the action, president or not. His older brother, the heir apparent to papa bear Fred’s mini-empire, croaked from alcoholism. So, D.T.’s a bit of a champagne sipper, nothing more. Hemp is well cultivated in his wife’s home country, and Canada is already exporting Cannabis elixir back to Europe. Me thinks Los elefantes, save the really holy-roller social conservative types ( you know … the ones who sabotaged the effort to reduce felony convictions for pot in Az this election ) are going to get in line around a lifting of the Federal ban on banking for all Cannabis related companies. We’ve made a lot of progress on this issue since the George Bush, Jr. years. I just can’t see it all being wiped off the face of the earth ( again ). The only problem with pot is the longer you keep it illegal, the more young kids will want to to do it. It’s a kid thing. Keep it medical, keep it over 21 like alcohol ( or, even better … keep it legal at the age of voting ). That’s not to say #RecMj cannot co-exist with the #MedMj movement. Just don’t throw the baby out with the bath water when crafting these state laws for recreational use. Finally, ALL American citizens should have the right to grow their own dozen or so plants, not just a few fortunate ones sprinkled here and there across the country. Federal reform may be just the ticket.

    Reply
    • Cactus Bill on

      As you stated, DT is all about money.
      The argument best suited to “trump” the holy rollers is the taxation equation, no longer a fantasy thesis given documented empirical evidence from the MJ front runner states.
      The only fear that it won’t work is if an MJ rollback ban is folded into a different DT initiative that Congress won’t approve without killing that cash cow. There are a ton of newly motivated uber Conservatives in Congress, so it’s egg shell walking time for MJ proponents.

      Reply
    • Mugsy on

      You are right about one thing..Americans have the right to grow and use…..and trump agrees….so Let others make their choices and you make yours ….billary and Obama ,who have betrayed us for eight years….saying one thing and as usual doing another …are just like you….no science, just onion and politics….we don’t have to fear trump, we have to fear judgemental dcks like you who want to impose their opinions on others.

      Reply
  4. Ma Dang on

    I’ll reply to all the comments at once:
    First numbnuts, yes I did listen to his speeches. Cut the regs ruining small farms ? He was talking about repealing the EPA and clean water regulations (Paul Ryan reconfirmed this on 11/9). He never said how he would help Vets (I’m a VN vet w/ ptsd) or that he would make cannabis available for them thru the VA and the names bantered about for DoJ are NOT pro-legalization. He is also pro-big banks and reducing oversite on them so they can assist big business in jump starting the economy.
    Brett, He doesn’t have to be public in his stance on ‘turning back the clock’, in fact he campaigned on doing exactly that and his minions will be the ones to take the heat over that (he is pro law and order), but maybe he will build the wall so there’s no competition from Mexico (not that anyone smokes it anymore !). Remember the stance /redrick used by the Republicans during the election and what happened in Arizona.
    Dr Hemp, no one thought he would get elected, so don’t be suprised by what he may do !

    Reply
  5. Michael Mayes on

    Great article, is this the end of cannabis, probably not since killing children isn’t at the top of the government’s agenda, then again we will see. Stranger things have happened. I prefer to focus on the positive and let all of the negative weed itself out.

    Michael Mayes
    CEO | Quantum 9, Inc,
    http://www.quantum9.net

    Reply
  6. ShePuffs on

    Trump used bigotry and racism to win this election so Trump is gonna be so ballz deep in a job he knows he unqualified to have that, the concern of what he will or won’t do in California going forward regarding legal and medicinal weed is a joke!

    You just better hope he doesn’t pick a fight with that ahole in North Korea or let a dozen double agents get hired into ‘his’ 4000 open positions he has to fill for his Bush/Cheney like administration!

    Reply
    • Wm Greystone on

      Get off the liberal talking points. Have you ever had an original idea? I think not. Leftist are bullies and bigots who persecute, oppress, tyrannize, browbeat, harass, torment, intimidate, and strong-arm anyone who has a different opinion. Liberals are hypocrites and everyone sees it now so keep doing what you are doing.

      President elect Trump won because people rejected everything liberals stand for, simple as that.

      Reply
  7. Scott Giannotti on

    Trump has been outspoken on cannabis reform. He spoke passionately about legalizing medical and while he has concerns on recreational he has stated it would leave it up to the states.

    I fully expect the movement to advance faster than ever under President Donald J. Trump.

    Reply

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