Industry Feels Jeff Sessions Won't Smoke Sector
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Industry Feels Jeff Sessions Won't Smoke Sector
Posted by CN Staff on January 31, 2017 at 14:23:16 PT
By Steven Nelson, Staff Writer 
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Washington, D.C. -- Owners of state-legal cannabis businesses say they aren’t particularly concerned about the possibility that Sen. Jeff Sessions, considered by a Senate committee on Tuesday to be attorney general, will seek to crush the multibillion-dollar state-legal industry.Legally speaking, the Alabama Republican -- a cannabis reform foe -- would have the power to greatly harm the industry if confirmed by the full Senate. But business owners say strong polling and economic arguments in their favor make such action unlikely.
As President Donald Trump moves to enact campaign promises to throttle travel from some Muslim-majority countries and to build a border wall with Mexico, they also believe Trump and by extension Sessions won't undermine a pervasive pledge to protect jobs.“We’re not talking one thousand or two thousand jobs, we’re talking billions in revenue, hundreds of millions in taxes, tens of thousands of jobs,” says Derek Peterson, CEO of Terra Tech, a company with about 200 full-time employees that grows and sells medical marijuana at a large northern California facility and at several facilities in Nevada.“The economics are far too large and I think they understand that,” says Peterson, a former Morgan Stanley banker, who points out that although Sessions last year said “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” a fund operated by key Trump adviser Peter Thiel, the silicon valley billionaire, has pursued investments in the industry and Thiel personally donated to support a recreational legalization initiative in California last year.“I think guys like Thiel have his ear. I think he understands the economic advantages and the job creation that have taken place,” Peterson says. “[Trump] surrounded himself with a lot of Wall Street people, and there’s a reason Wall Street never drug tests.”While campaigning, Trump expressed personal support for state autonomy over cannabis policy. He endorsed legal access to medical marijuana, now allowed under varying restrictions in a majority of states, but also expressed concern about recreational use laws, which have been approved in eight states and the nation’s capital.Marijuana possession for any reason outside limited research remains a federal crime and Sessions said at a confirmation hearing earlier this month "I won't commit to never enforcing federal law.” The same day, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer, however, said that Sessions would be required to follow "the Trump agenda" on marijuana policy.“You would have to deliberately go against the will of the people. And to what end? I just don’t see it happening,” says Steven Gormley, CEO of Los Angeles-area cannabis investment group Seventh Point, about a hypothetical crackdown.National polling generally shows majority support for recreational legalization and super-majority support of about 90 percent for legal access to medical marijuana.Andy Williams, co-owner of Colorado’s Medicine Man, which grows and sells medical and recreational marijuana at a Denver facility and recreational marijuana at an Aurora store, has similar feelings.“I don’t have the fear that others do of this new administration,” he says.Williams believes most businesses are compliant with state laws and avoid tripping the federal enforcement priorities set out in the 2013 Cole Memo, through which the Obama administration allowed for recreational pot stores to open. Sessions suggested at his confirmation hearing he felt the memo's priorities, which warned against interstate diversion, increases in drugged driving and other negative public health consequences and sales to minors, had not been followed.“Further enforcement will just show the states are doing a good job,” Williams says.So far, national and state statistics show stable or declining teen pot use. Pot intercepts, meanwhile, have decreased for the Colorado-neighboring Kansas Highway Patrol and the national U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Instances of drugged driving and marijuana-related hospitalizations often are cited by legalization opponents, who also express concern about accidental edible consumption, though legalization supporters say it’s possible better reporting is responsible for apparent upticks and emphasize a correlation between lower opioid overdose rates and state medical marijuana laws.Through April, Congress has banned the Justice Department from using appropriated funds to undermine state medical pot programs, a measure first passed in 2014 and so far interpreted generously by the courts. That amendment didn’t change the underlying law and a similar measure to protect state recreational pot laws failed in a 206-222 House vote in 2015. It’s unclear if new House leadership will allow similar amendments from the floor this year, throwing the fate of the protections into question.Still, former Goldman Sachs banker Hadley Ford, co-founder of the the cannabis investment firm iAnthus -- which invests with state-legal businesses in Vermont, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Colorado -- says he's far from panicked about Sessions.“We don’t lose a lot of sleep on it, but that being said, it is against the law from a federal perspective and whether under the Obama administrator or under the Trump administration we have to be cautious,” he says.“The Obama administration wasn’t particularly supportive of cannabis,” Ford says. “My view is it will probably be the same as ever, but it will probably be judged by a different litmus test. Something [Obama administration attorneys general] Loretta Lynch or Eric Holder did would be viewed differently than if Jeff Sessions does the exact same thing because of the stripes they wear and the party they affiliate with.”Indeed, before allowing recreational shops to open pursuant to the Cole Memo, the Obama administration raided medical pot businesses, prompting a leader of the legalization movement to call President Barack Obama “the worst president on medical marijuana.” Lynch assured Sessions during her confirmation hearing she personally opposed legalization and that the department did not support legalization as a policy.Though business owners present themselves as unconcerned, one advocacy group that sees Sessions as an existential threat to legalization, the grassroots D.C. Cannabis Campaign, has sought to pressure him with office visits, while the national pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance came out swinging against him.Anisha Gianchandani, a spokeswoman for the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, says the group’s not sure what Sessions will do, but that “we think there should be a sensible plan to shut down profit-hungry pot businesses.”Amid uncertainty, the National Cannabis Industry Association decided not to oppose Sessions and instead launched a public education campaign. The group employs lobbyists at the Republican firm Jochum Shore & Trossevin.“The priorities in the Cole Memo are priorities that we in the industry agree with -- things like making sure it’s not sold to children or being sold by cartels,” says Taylor West, the association’s deputy director, regarding the possibility Sessions will seek more vigorous enforcement. “We have to be very involved and watchful. There’s no sitting back and assuming things will be okay,” she adds.Corey Barnette, the owner of District Growers, one of the largest medical marijuana companies in the nation’s capital, meanwhile, suspects companies running afoul of local rules are most at risk.“If an ax is going to be swung, it’s probably going to be swung at the outright violators first,” Barnette says.“Sessions’ opinion of our industry is clear, but ours is a formidable industry now,” he adds. “It would be opening somewhat of a hornet’s nest to roll back [state cannabis programs].”Peterson says he actually could see a crackdown being the impetus for legal reform.“Under the Obama administration there wasn’t any catalyst for Congress to get off their butts and enact laws,” he says. “You can take away a lot of things from people, but when you take away things like alcohol and cannabis you’re hitting people very personally.”Alejandro Canto, owner of Diego Pellicer’s Washington state branch -- which is offering what is said to be the world’s most expensive ounce of cannabis at $2,000 -- says he doubts the industry will be a priority, but says in a worst-case scenario recreational businesses like his might pivot back toward a medical framework.“We would work it out as an industry,” he says, warning however that the black market would be strengthened. “I don’t think they will be steering away from the recreational market… but if they do I think the market is strong enough and we’re educated and we will be able to adjust.” Williams holds a different perspective, believing a drop in revenue would put many former recreational firms out of business.Though business owners say they aren’t worried, they acknowledge there's risk.Ford believes his investments will be fine, but says “we’re diversified across multiple states and multiple operators, so God forbid the feds do something in one state, we don’t have all our eggs in one basket.”“Since the election, I’m going to be a lot more discreet about things, that’s the one change I’m making,” says Gormley of the Los Angeles area, where medical businesses are likely ultimately to pivot toward the recreational market. “I don’t want to poke the bear and put a bullseye on my back by speaking too overtly about how much money we’ve raised and where we’ve deployed it.”Source: U.S. News & World Report (US)Author: Steven Nelson, Staff Writer  Published: January 31, 2017Copyright: 2017 U.S. News & World ReportWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on February 06, 2017 at 19:49:10 PT
I agree.
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Comment #10 posted by Briteleaf on February 06, 2017 at 17:21:34 PT:
Jeff Sessions
Sessions is anti-women's choice, anti cannabis, and has clearly demonstrated his willingness to establish a WHITE, NATIONALIST AMERICA. 
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on February 01, 2017 at 11:48:38 PT
Some of their donors. (Oh my gosh!)
And yes... there are plenty of alcohol distributors. Next year.. or soon, maybe the cannabis industry can contribute and they will clean up their act even more.Comcast Corporation
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on February 01, 2017 at 11:02:16 PT
As help to anyone not able to decipher my typo...
"I know about distributors and all that, so it may promote anti-cannabis and demonization an organization and producer of government propaganda as well." Should be, "I know about distributors and all that, so it may promote anti-cannabis and demonization as an organization and producer of government propaganda as well."There's probably more, too. I hurry a bit much some times. So sorry.
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on February 01, 2017 at 10:58:29 PT
The Ad Council
It is a great letter, the GCW and a worthy warning. I agree. I like an occasional beer, too. I enjoy Corona when I have a beer. It feels free of the ad council by being imported. But... I know about distributors and all that, so it may promote anti-cannabis and demonization an organization and producer of government propaganda as well.On that note I've been exploring the Ad Council. It's odd. I thought they were all about anti-drug ads. My gosh! They created "Smokey the Bear"! I've always loved Smokey the Bear. I joined the Junior Forest Rangers as a child because of the Smokey the Bear campaign. I thought it was all about placing demonization type ads before the public, but apparently, there is much more and they aren't all about drug demonization at all, according to their site and their Facebook page. It is notable and odd that they were first called the War Ad Council. Days after they were established the United States entered WW II. Their sites are interesting and they don't have any glaring excess of anti-drug things. It's there, but not as much as I thought it was. Maybe, considering the changes in views they are "Laying low" on their sites about all that. They did it and they do it... but they aren't exclusively about that.Sam, that is scary. I'm looking through their TV ads. I do see an anti-rape ad, but it shows both males and females as victims. It's sad if they are backing up that stanky attitude some people harbor about being overly suspicious and zealous in suspecting and accusing others of deviant sexual behavior and stirring up that fearfulness and self-righteousness against "Possible" perverts. Of course if you truly suspect or are concerned that something is actually happening to some child, you should pay attention and guard them and teach them to protect and defend themselves... but looking for a booger, and that particular "accusing" booger, around every corner is messed up in itself. As a reminder, I have to say, again, that I am not "Pro drug" or any of that stuff that some label us as. I am pro people, and pro freedom, and pro common sense. Ninety nine percent of the anti-drug push has been demonization... and we know it. They surely know it. Demonization is not a good thing.
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Comment #6 posted by Sam Adams on January 31, 2017 at 23:02:19 PT
totally agree on beer, great LTE! Here in Mass. the liquor distributors donated big bucks to the opponents of legalization, they have no shame. Helll yes Brew Moon is corporate swill!The Ad Council is an absolutely sinister organization. I listen to college radio, the local station is good but they're forced to play Ad Council PSA's. It's unbelievable, most of the spots demonize men in general, warning that we're child abusers, stalkers, bad fathers, date rapists, wife-beaters, and bullies. There are zero ads criticizing women's behavior. Very creepy. Thank god they don't play the anti-cannabis ones, I've never heard them.
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Comment #5 posted by Hope on January 31, 2017 at 18:45:08 PT
Laura Kriho
Remembering Laura Kriho, Outspoken Cannabis Advocate and True Believer
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on January 31, 2017 at 17:39:27 PT
I agree!
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on January 31, 2017 at 17:38:33 PT
Trump Nominates Judge Neil M. Gorsuch
Trump Nominates Judge Neil M. Gorsuch for Supreme Court: Does He Support Marijuana?
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on January 31, 2017 at 17:01:18 PT
Public Service Announcement
Quick Public Service AnnouncementUS CO: PUB LTE: Be Choosy When Buying Beer
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on January 31, 2017 at 16:57:08 PT
I haven't read this yet...
But I got to put in...The ignoid can not make cannabis illegal in Colorado. He can only shut down the store front. History has shown there is absolutely no problem supplying the DEMAND! The only out-come the Miss can muster is to force the black market's hand!Ignoid has little if nothing. Here in Colorado, We are ahead, CANNABIS HAS BEEN RE-LEGALIZED & an ignoid from Mississippi can not change that.-0-& the number of states which choose to end the farce will only increase; there is no chance it will decrease.-0-There are only 2 choices! Either government regulates cannabis (the God given plant as described on page 1) or the Black Market regulates cannabis.EITHER WAY CANNABIS IS NOT GOING AWAY. IT'S HERE, ALWAYS HAS BEEN, ALWAYS WILL BE.
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