Whether you support or oppose the legalization of marijuana, you cannot deny the economic benefits for the states that were first to legalize. According to CNBC, “Colorado hit $1 billion in eight months last year. Medical marijuana sales in California last year topped $2 billion. And with the recent launch of legal recreational cannabis sales in that state, sales are expected jump to $5 billion this year.” While the numbers are staggering its also key to note that no one company has established itself as the industry king, meaning that most people benefiting from these increased revenue are small businesses. With Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to end an Obama administration policy that effectively protected states that legalized cannabis, new rules may ultimately affect thousands of successful small marijuana businesses.
Sessions on Thursday repealed what’s known as the Cole memo, a document that generally barred federal law enforcement officials from interfering with marijuana sales in states where the drug is legal. In a one-page memo, he directed federal prosecutors to use their discretion in deciding whether to bring charges against distributors, growers and processors, considering the seriousness of the crime and its impact on the community.
The rumor is now that this new ruling will end in the Supreme Court with many cannabis businesses looking to re-instate the former rule allowing states rights to over rule the federal mandate. With a conservative Supreme Court, the ruling in favor of states rights should be assured, but with the recent political rhetoric its hard to say. The Justice Department budgeting is also” something small-business owners will want to pay close attention to. Prosecuting cannabis-focused businesses will take money and, for now at least, there’s nothing earmarked for that. Should the department see a notable funding increase, that could be a red flag.”