Marijuana workers get the California seal of approval Is Legal Marijuana the Last Bipartisan Cause in America? Marijuana activists vow to smoke and get arrested on steps of U.S. Capitol Most Americans Support Pro Athletes Using Marijuana for Pain Relief California Cannabis Is Going Industrial Trump’s drug czar pick has strong “no” vote record on marijuana Billions In Marijuana Taxes Are Addictive To State Governors The Holy Land of Medical Marijuana Oregon lawmakers vote to block cannabis users’ info from feds Marijuana legalization grows closer with Senate tax proposal Jerry Jones’s marijuana proposal could save NFL players’ lives The problem with America’s marijuana DUI laws John Oliver – Update Federal Marijuana Laws The way people buy legal marijuana will change in 2019 DOJ Wants Information On Colorado Marijuana Cases Oregon lawmakers introduce laws to protect legal recreational marijuana Public support for legal marijuana surged in 2016 Federal Marijuana Hostility Wrong Addiction Specialists Ponder a Potential Aid: Marijuana Dozens of industries could see a boost from legal marijuana Oregon May Declare Emergency Over Jeff Sessions’ Marijuana Threats Maximizing the Medical Effects of Marijuana Marijuana Legalization Opponents Were Wrong Oxford University announces new £10m medical marijuana research program Pro-marijuana church in Alabama: Members tout ‘God and cannabis’ Every State Could Legalize Marijuana by 2021- The Motley Fool 25% of US beer drinkers have switched to marijuana or would if it was legal Colorado Rep. Jared Polis has a plan to keep marijuana safe from Sessions Good science on marijuana is hard to find Jeff Sessions: Marijuana Is “Only Slightly Less Awful” Than Heroin Federal Marijuana Crimes Drop For Fifth Consecutive Year Jeff Sessions Will Enforce Federal Marijuana Laws In An ‘Appropriate Way’ Beer Industry Could Lose $2 Billion From Legal Marijuana Pot for pets: Owners treat sick animals with marijuana Marijuana Legalization Hasn’t Increased Traffic Fatalities Don’t let Big Marijuana prioritize profits over public safety The future of recreational marijuana in Trump’s America Idaho customers breathe life into tiny Oregon marijuana town Elizabeth Warren to Jeff Sessions “Respect state marijuana law” Doctors warn against teen pot use as marijuana laws loosen Will Edible And Concentrate Marijuana Brands Get As Big As Budweiser? Marijuana Industry To Create More Jobs Than Manufacturing By 2020 California Marijuana Is Not Safe to Smoke California marijuana tax and tracking systems behind schedule Republican Introduces “The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act” Why the Legal Marijuana Industry Is Suddenly Worried Military Veterans With PTSD Begin Marijuana Clinical Trials Marijuana Drug Could Extend Lives of Brain Cancer Patients, Study Finds Contaminated Medical Marijuana Believed To Have Killed California Cancer Patient Marijuana lobby goes mainstream Marijuana Prices Fall As Growers Flood The Market With Pot Scientists to Government: Make It Easier to Investigate Marijuana Likely scenarios for marijuana under Jeff Sessions as attorney general Six Predictions For The Marijuana Industry In 2017 Study finds traffic fatalities decline with medical marijuana laws This Company Is Using Brain Scans To Help You Select Medical Marijuana DEA dismissed its own misconceptions about marijuana Duke University Uses Identical Twins to Prove Weed Doesn’t Make Kids Dumb Marijuana industry brought to a standstill by pesticide testing problems Massachusetts Marijuana – Now What? Trump’s Attorney General Is a Bad Scenario for the Marijuana Industry Pharma executive behind OxyContin sells medical marijuana Marijuana Plants Flourish Under Energy-Saving LED Lights Legal Marijuana Could Drive A New Tech Boom California marijuana would fail Oregon’s standards, study finds When Medical Marijuana Is the Doctor’s Orders, Will Insurers Pay? Marijuana Sales Spike at Thanksgiving Legal marijuana users can’t legally buy a gun Maine marijuana legalization nears recount California marijuana industry is a ‘$25 billion opportunity’ NFL Players Searching For Painkiller Choices Hope For New Marijuana Rules Test for marijuana impairment? A UMass prof has an app for that States Offer Legal Marijuana – Investors And Marketers Line Up Washington Marijuana Outsells Liquor Colorado’s paradox: Recreational marijuana is legal, but it’s tough to use Attorney General Selection Signals Hazy Future for Marijuana Legalization Marijuana: Will it soon be bigger than the NFL? Will Legal Marijuana Lead To More People Smoking Tobacco? A legal snafu made medical marijuana tax-free in California for 2017 Advocates Wait for Trump’s Stance on Legal Marijuana Marijuana may help control substance abuse, mental health disorders California Marijuana is Legal. Now What? Legislators file bills aimed at decriminalizing Texas marijuana Massachusetts Marijuana gold rush? Walmart of Weed? Not so fast CDC: More people are using marijuana, but fewer are abusing it Industrial hemp industry gets kick-start from oil extract US court upholds ban on selling guns to marijuana card holders Marijuana startups could be hurt once legalization hits Marijuana Drug Helps Kids With Rare Forms Of Epilepsy In Studies Libertarian Gary Johnson Explains Why He Supports Legal Marijuana U.S. Gov’t Will Legalize Marijuana on August 1 Police and Prison Guard Groups Fight Marijuana Legalization in California Study: States are losing out on billions of dollars by keeping marijuana illegal New law could put some medical marijuana dispensaries out of business Will Canada become America’s cannabis capital? Talking With Teenagers About Marijuana Jay Evensen: Americans embrace marijuana blindly Vacant California prison could be turned into marijuana production site Medical Marijuana draws parents to U.S. for their children’s treatments Marijuana Gains Global Support Adding Germany and Canada



With the exception of 1996, when California first legalized medical cannabis, or 2012, when Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational pot, 2016 was probably marijuana’s best year ever.

When 2016 began, medical marijuana was legal in 23 states, and recreational weed could be purchased legally by adults 21 and up in four states. By year’s end, 28 states had legalized medicinal cannabis (two of which did so entirely through the legislative process), while the number of recreation-legal states had doubled to eight. Among those was California, which on its own is one of the largest economies in the world. Once the recreational business is ramped up, California is expected to generate $1 billion or more in added annual tax and licensing revenue from marijuana.

Changing perceptions of pot among the public is a big reason marijuana has flourished in recent years. Gallup, which conducts somewhat regular surveys on the public’s opinion of weed, has shown that in roughly 20 years, the percentage of respondents who want to see marijuana legalized nationally has more than doubled to 60% from 25%.

What’s next for marijuana with Sessions as attorney general?

The industry is facing a brand-new challenge in 2017: the appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Al.) as the nation’s next Attorney General.

Sessions is an ardent opponent of the legalization of marijuana. In a Senate drug hearing last April, Sessions cited a 20% increase in the number of traffic deaths in certain states where marijuana has been legalized as a reason the drug is a problem. Furthermore, Sessions has blamed the Obama administration’s relaxed marijuana policies for reversing what he believes was a positive hostility toward illegal drugs, including pot, that began during the Reagan years.

Perhaps the biggest uncertainty to face the marijuana industry in 2017 and beyond is what will happen once Donald Trump takes office and Sessions becomes the nation’s attorney general. Though there are a handful of possible scenarios, three seem most likely.

Most likely: The status quo continues

Though the appointment of Sessions should rightly strike fear in pro-legalization enthusiasts and among the marijuana industry, Sessions also has to contend with two key elements.

First, the public is overwhelmingly behind the idea of legalizing pot. Gallup’s poll shows that 6 in 10 Americans favor the full legalization of weed, while a CBS News poll from 2015 found that 84% of Americans favor the nationwide legalization of medical cannabis. Scaling back state-level pot laws now could be a devastating blow to the Republican Party’s popularity when so many Americans’ views on cannabis have changed over the past two decades.

The other factor here is that Donald Trump has come out on a few occasions during his campaigning to support the legalization of medical cannabis nationally. His opinion on recreational cannabis could be construed as mixed, with Trump advocating more of a wait-and-see approach, but he’s been clear about his stance that medical marijuana should be federally legal.

Can Trump convince a Republican congress to legalize medical marijuana? My guess is probably not, since many of the states that continue to hold cannabis as illegal on all levels are run by Republicans lawmakers. However, Sessions could have difficultly swaying Trump to make any changes to the current status quo given Trump’s campaign opinions and a desire not to anger a majority of the public. More than likely, the status quo of state-level legalization and regulation will remain intact.

Second most likely: Restrictions on new states, status quo continues for existing legal states

A second possibility, though I would put the likelihood of this happening pretty far behind the first scenario, is that Sessions could put the kibosh on state-level legalizations for new states, at least when it comes to recreational marijuana. Under such a scenario, the eight existing legal marijuana states would serve as something of a guinea pig for Congress to monitor before deciding whether or not to allow additional states to legalize.

Banning new states from legalizing pot would be a modest win for Sessions, but I don’t believe he could convince Congress or Trump to disallow the state-level legalization of medical marijuana in any of the remaining 22 states that haven’t legalized (should they decide to do so). Even though the Food and Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Agency don’t recognize cannabis as having medically beneficial qualities, a number of university research studies have observed benefits from either marijuana itself or its cannabinoids. Plus, with so many people favoring the legalization of medical cannabis, cutting off access to medical pot could be negative publicity that Trump and his cabinet simply don’t need.

Third most likely: Recreational pot legalization is taken off the table at the state level

A third scenario, which is probably the least likely of the bunch, is that Sessions manages to convince Trump and a conservative Congress to remove the hands-off approach when it comes to recreational marijuana. In other words, this scenario would allow states that have legalized medical cannabis to keep their dispensaries intact, but it would shut down the recreational sale of pot in the eight legal states.

For Sessions, this would probably represent his greatest victory as attorney general, given his stance on marijuana. Of course, it’s also the least likely given the heat Congress and Trump would take from both the marijuana industry and the American public. In order for Sessions to succeed in pulling the cord on recreational marijuana, he would need to present some unequivocal evidence demonstrating the dangers of recreational marijuana to society. Traffic fatality data could potentially help his case, but he’d likely need far more to sway Trump and Congress.

Uncertainty begets caution

There’s little denying the huge dollar potential behind the steady expansion of the marijuana industry. According to investment company Cowen & Co., the legal pot industry could be worth $50 billion in a decade. These figures are certainly juicy enough to entice investors to take a shot on the pot industry.

Unfortunately, the appointment of Sessions, even if the status quo remains, makes investing in marijuana far too risky.

Aside from Sessions likely looking to scale back the marijuana industry by any means possible, pot businesses are set to face ongoing inherent disadvantages. For example, marijuana companies have limited access to basic banking services since most banks fear federal prosecution at some point in the future for dealing with pot businesses. Being forced to deal solely with cash is a security concern and an expansion inhibitor.

Additionally, marijuana businesses are stuck paying tax on their gross profits instead of net profits because they’re disallowed from taking normal corporate income tax deductions. Neither of these disadvantages is expected to change with Sessions as attorney general.

Business Insider



Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: