The next couple of years will be crucial for the future of legal cannabis businesses, here in California and across the country. Policy wins in 2016 for 8 out of 9 cannabis reform initiatives, totalling 28 states nationwide, certainly boded well… however the likely confirmation of Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions as the next US Attorney General causes concern. Just prior to the Trump inauguration, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer implied that Sessions would fall in line with Trump’s campaign pledges to respect local cannabis laws, though Sessions own personal views of cannabis consumers has been dim. The attorney general nominee, in a confirmation hearing and in follow-up written responses, did call the Obama administration’s state-friendly enforcement guidelines “valuable” but said he’d never promise not to enforce federal prohibition.
I believe ultimately that during the Trump administration, local politics will determine local fates in most cases. Prohibitionist prosecutors will be empowered to act in ways we as an industry likely do not appreciate. Selective prosecution is likely to return in specific districts, entirely dependant on their local priorities and personal leanings.
The best forward-looking statement I am aware of was that of Steven Mnuchin, the nominee for treasury secretary, who said in written statements that marijuana businesses’ access to banking is “an important issue” and committed to review “which provisions of the current tax code should be retained, revised or eliminated to ensure that all individuals and businesses compete on a level playing field.”
Many cannabis businesses still can’t access the banking system and are crippled by 280e tax code which has repercussions far beyond where dispensaries store their cash. What can you do? Contact your Representative in Congress with a quick note or call saying you want banking and 280e tax reform for the cannabis industry, and JOIN the NCIA, as The National Cannabis Industry Association is the only group actively working to lobby Congress on your behalf to address these specific issues.
Dale Sky Jones