Sessions Memo: Release the Krakens

CANNABIS BUSINESS EXECUTIVES

January 11, 2018 |

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to eradicate the four memos that stood as the legal foundation of the cannabis industry is somewhat shocking and certainly worthy of comment.  Opinions of my friends in the industry would lead me to believe that this may spark the rebellion to end marijuana prohibition once and for all. I tend to agree.

The attorney general’s decision to reverse the memos which allowed states to develop regulated programs invalidates the programs, but not the industry. His decision seems to place enforcement in the hands of state district attorneys who would be empowered to decide on a case by case basis. It turns the industry into a giant game of Whack-A-Mole.

The legitimate cannabis entrepreneur’s motto of “We will build the most compliant operation” has evolved into “Don’t get caught.”  Most of the infrastructure to grow, process, and sell cannabis has been built by the effort of 30 states including D.C., 45 if you include hemp.

Seed-to-Sale tracking has gone from being fully validating to fully incriminating. One subpoena to any Seed to Sale software provider would chill the industry overnight. Nobody thinks that is likely to happen, but few anticipated Sessions’ memo move. Is his true goal to eliminate the industry or to foster wild unrestricted growth?

It is entirely possible that “Don’t get caught” as a model for doing business will lead to an even larger boom for the industry than following the no longer relevant Cole guidelines. The gray market will flourish. The green market will continue to follow state guidelines and hope for the best while it supplies even more product to a new secondary grey market. If the goal of the administration was unrestrained industry growth, they have succeeded.

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