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article imageCracking down on the marijuana industry will hurt economy

By Karen Graham     Mar 2, 2017 in Politics
When it comes to the Trump administration's marijuana policy, some governors of states where its sale is legal are justifiably concerned over the federal government's interference with the threat of a crackdown on people who sell the product.
Right now, there is a lot of uncertainty and confusion in the marijuana industry and they all center around comments made by President Trump during his campaign and statements made by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearings and as recently as on Tuesday last week.
Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the sale of marijuana, while 28 states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical conditions, despite the fact that marijuana is treated as a controlled substance, just like cocaine and heroin, under federal law, punishable by arrest and imprisonment.
Medicinal marijuana is gaining popularity to ease suffering from cancer  glaucoma  HIV or AIDS  Hepa...
Medicinal marijuana is gaining popularity to ease suffering from cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, Hepatitis C, Parkinson's disease and other conditions
, AFP/File
"I’m dubious about marijuana. I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana sold at every corner grocery store,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions told state attorneys general on Tuesday last week. Sessions also made the comment that “experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think.”
But in states where the sale of marijuana is legal, about the only violence to worry about would be raids on businesses by local law enforcement. One shop owner in California actually has an annual "mock raid" to teach his staff and customers how to behave if law enforcement does show up.
“We didn’t want to get shot, we didn’t want someone to get hurt, and these raids, they’re like military, SWAT-style raids. So we felt that we had to have that kind of retraining to keep everybody safe and make sure that nobody got hurt,” Steve DeAngelo, the owner of an Oakland, California medical cannabis dispensary, Harborside Health Center, told Buzz Feed.
A woman lights and smokes a joint.
A woman lights and smokes a joint.
Chuck Grimmett / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
The federal government will enforce the law, period
Over the last 50 years or so, opinions on the use and legality of marijuana have changed in the eyes of the American public. Under President Obama, raids on marijuana shops dropped to a trickle because it wasn't worth the time or effort by law enforcement. However, with all the threats of a crackdown on the "sale of the illegal drug," no one is sure about anything.
And states that do allow the sale of marijuana have put all their faith in the Department of Justice Cole Memorandum, a 2013 DOJ memo that basically set conditions for states to meet in avoiding federal interference. Michael Correia, director of government relations for the National Cannabis Industry Association assumed that if Hilary Clinton won the election, she would keep the Cole Memorandum in force.
Now, he says, “I think with the election of Trump, that there’s a little uncertainty. Will they keep the Cole Memo? Will they change the Cole Memo? What will happen?” Time will tell, and it's probably a sure bet Sessions will do away with the memo if he has a chance.
US President Donald Trump defended his hardline policies and declared a "new era of justice&quo...
US President Donald Trump defended his hardline policies and declared a "new era of justice" in America as he swore in Attorney General Jeff Sessions (L)
And if anyone is in doubt over what Jeff Sessions thinks about the use of marijuana, in a meeting with reporters this week, he told them: “I am definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana. But states, they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say, it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”
Why a federal crackdown is a bad move
In the first place, in states where the sale of marijuana is legal, the cannabis market was worth an estimated $7.2 billion in 2016, and the industry is forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of 17 percent. If we look at just medical marijuana sales, they are projected to grow from $4.7 billion in 2016 to $13.3 billion in 2020.
“These numbers confirm that cannabis is a major economic driver and job-creation engine for the U.S. economy,” said Giadha Aguirre De Carcer, Founder, and CEO of New Frontier Data. Additionally, according to New Frontier Data, by 2020 the legal cannabis market will create more than a quarter of a million jobs.
And according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the expected growth of jobs in the cannabis market is more than the expected jobs from manufacturing, utilities or even government jobs by 2020. So why in the world would the government want to kill a productive industry that is an economic driver and job creator?
More about Marijuana, jeff sessions, federal crackdown, states vs federal government, Legality
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