Trump Legalizes Marijuana
Trump Legalizes Marijuana

Connect The Dots: Why Donald Trump Will Legalize Marijuana

The FDA, Tax Revenue, Jobs, Congress, and More.

Posted by:
Oaktree on Tuesday Feb 28, 2017

Connect The Dots: Why Donald Trump Will Legalize Marijuana


trump marijuana law


There has been a lot written about Donald Trump and his views on medical marijuana.  If you are following many of the articles on the subject, you will know the following points.



-Donald Trump has flip flopped on his stance on medical marijuana and as of today, the 5th day of his presidency, no one knows what will happen or what his plans are for the subject.  We are all just guessing right now based on his past discussions.






-Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, Jeffery Session, a Republican from Alabama, is on record as being very much anti-marijuana with such famous quotes as “no good people use marijuana” and “we need adults in charge of marijuana in Washington”.



-The industry in general is very pessimistic right now based on Sessions and Trump.   An interview with marijuana advocate, Steph Sherer, in MJ BIZ DAILY paints an even bleaker picture of the industry under Trump and Sessions.



-The marijuana industry has rallied around the mantra, “Well, Trump is a business man first, he sees the money and jobs, so let’s see what happens.”  This has been the most optimistic tune to hold on to the last few weeks.   That, and “Trump is a big states’ right guy, wants the Federal government out of state’s businesses” has been our rallying cry for a few months now.




So, why does think Trump will legalize medical marijuana on a Federal level and most likely leave the recreational up to each state to decide?





Well, let’s start with deconstructing a few myths.




Jeffery Sessions hates marijuana and is the most anti-marijuana senator Congress.   While it is true he is anti-marijuana, all the other choices for Attorney General that Trump was considering didn’t like marijuana either, most notably Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie.



Does Jeffery Sessions hate marijuana as much as the headlines say? sat down with the congressional transcripts of the Sessions hearings to be Attorney General and it wasn’t as bad as many headlines say, to wit:



Sessions said that he enforces the law as Attorney General, and if you want a law to change, ask Congress to change it.   His job is to enforce the law, so change the law.   He mentioned this twice during direct questions on his medical marijuana views.




Why is this good?




Jeffery Sessions is not a religious fanatic about marijuana, and he doesn’t feel his sole job in life is to rid the planet of this devil weed. This is very good news for the marijuana industry.   His answers were fair on the subject considering he is trying to become the highest-ranking attorney in the country.   It could have been much worse if he said he felt it was his mission from Jesus to fight cannabis or something like that.






Sessions also acknowledged he would need congressional support and money to fight a war on cannabis, and most likely that would be very hard to do, and get support for now.   With 27 States now with some form of either a medical program and/or recreational program, it will tough to rally the troops, let alone the money, to go after marijuana in the States that now have legal programs.  These states are creating great tax revenue and jobs, not to mention the people have voted for the programs and those senators want to get re-elected.



Next Fact.





When the DEA did NOT reschedule cannabis from a type 1 drug 4 months ago, like the cannabis community had hoped, the main excuse the DEA used was that the FDA had to first change the drug from a class 1 drug, and then they could also change it.  Basically, they shifted blame over to the FDA and said they had to do it first.



Trump is set to name Jim O’Neil as the head of the FDA in his administration.  Jim O’Neil is a YUUUUGE marijuana proponent and wants to see it legalized and get medical research started immediately. 



You can easily put together the dots at this point to see how the FDA can adjust cannabis as a schedule 2 drug or even, dare dream, treat it as alcohol and tobacco.  If that happens, then the DEA can then point the finger at the FDA and say, “Well, they did it first so it wasn’t us making pot legal”.  The dominos would fall into place.





Now, let’s go back to Trump himself.  On the one hand, he has said he has friends who use medical cannabis and get a real benefit from it.  He has also said in a campaign stop in Nevada that he was all for States’ rights on marijuana and it should be up to each State to decide.



On the other side of the “Trump flip flop” he has said he doesn’t like marijuana and in general doesn’t like it being allowed for recreational purposes.



So what happens now?



We wait, just like everyone else, to see what his policy or executive order will be?



That said, Trump is a business man first.  He does need to create jobs and tax revenue as states like Illinois, New Jersey, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, California, and Hawaii are running huge fiscal deficits, and have major public pension problems.   Notice many of the above states are enacted a medical marijuana program already.



Two, he and Session realize they can’t stop the movement, only hope to slow it down and stall it.  Sessions can’t get the votes or money from Congress to start a new war on cannabis.  California will see to that as governor Jerry Brown has already hired a legal all start team to fight Trump if need be, including ex-attorney general, Eric Holder.   Sessions isn’t some lunatic fanatic trying to end cannabis like we had in the 1930s.  He has said, if you don’t like the law, and me enforcing it, change it.  Period.



Third, Trump is aware of Jim O’Neal’s pro marijuana views and to put him in charge of the FDA is clearly opening a window into a rescheduling.



Tax revenue, jobs, lack of congressional support and funds, Jim O’Neal FDA…  Connect the dots.



As the industry says “Well, Trump is a business man, he is not stupid”.








Good news for the marijuana industry continues as Stan Garnett, district attorney from Boulder Colorado, has been named to Trump’s marijuana advisory team.   The National District Attorneys Association will feature 14 district attorneys from around the country that will help advise the Trump administration on marijuana law and policy.



Why is it good news that a bunch of district attorneys are advising Trump, and when is it ever good news when 14 lawyers get together?



Stan Garnett has a very liberal policy on marijuana coming from Colorado, and up until this point, the committee was “very conservative” as described in most articles.  The association’s make up was shifting so conservative that the group had already suggested a letter to governors in legal cannabis states to shut down all cannabis operations within 90 days.   Garnett felt that is was important for the committee to be fairly represented and thinks that other states just need to hear how cannabis works in Colorado to open their minds.



"I always end up on the more liberal position than anyone else, particularly on marijuana," Garnett said. "I think one of the things that happens is that many of the people in states where there is no legalization have a complete misunderstanding of states like Colorado. If nothing else, I'm able to say, 'Wait a minute, this is a huge business in Colorado, it is largely supported by the editorial boards, polls show it was being very popular, and by and large we have not seen an impact on crime rates.”


"For somebody from Missouri or South Carolina to tell Colorado how to handle an issue of its own choice like legalization of marijuana is not only bad policy, but it fails to respect the importance of local control and state rights."


Stan Garnett is a good choice for the marijuana industry, let’s hope he is just not a token appointee to an already very conservative group.



February 2, 2017 Update on Compassionate Care Bill in Congress


compassionate care act hr715


Jeff Sessions Tells Congress to Change the Marijuana Law, Congress Introduces Compassionate Care Act


As the country moves toward a federal marijuana program, Republican Virginia Rep. Griffith H. Morgan has introduced bill H.R. 715, also known as the Compassionate Care Act, on on January 27th, 2017.  The bill will would reschedule cannabis from a schedule 1 drug to a schedule 2 drug.   It would also make CBD, the non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant, federally legal if it was less than 0.3% TCH on a dry weighted basis.  THC is the psychoactive part of the cannabis plant that initiates the “high” or “stoned” feeling of the marijuana plant.



While this would not end federal prohibition on marijuana, it would allow full medical research to begin on the plant as well most likely allow banks and financial institutions to deal with legal marijuana businesses.  The largest break for cannabis businesses in the bill could also be the IRS recognition or reclassification of expenses for a cannabis businesses.  Right now, the IRS does not allow any business expenses to be written off for a marijuana based business since it is schedule 1 prohibited drug.  That means that all costs a business incurs are not allowed to be expensed, hence making the feasibility of a legal cannabis business almost impossible.


Tom Price medical marijuana

This news, along with Tom Price possibly being picked to be HHS Secretary under the Trump administration, is great news for the cannabis industry.  Tom Price is a huge proponent of legal cannabis laws and would help in the rescheduling processes.



February 15, 2017 Update


dea changes website for cannabis

The DEA removed a page on the website that contained false information about the supposed dangers of cannabis. The action was a response to the pressure Americans for Safe Access  (ASA), a nonprofit group advocating for marijuana legalization. ASA filed a petition on December 5 arguing that the DEA was using misleading information about cannabis; such as saying that the plant causes lung cancer, psychosis, and even permanent brain damage - all of which violate the Information Quality Act.


So why did the DEA change or remove the page?


1.  They are facing a legal petition, that will turn into a lawsuit in front of the Justice Department that they were going to lose.  It is far better to remove the page from their point of view then let this snowball into an even bigger campaign and more press coverage.  If they had let this drag on and main stream press started to run stories, then once they changed the page, main stream press would be reporting the DEA changed their mind about cannabis and the news would just get bigger and bigger.


2. Trump is set to name Jim O'Neil had of the FDA (who the DEA passed the buck to on the last reschedule go around and said the FDA needs to change their definition first) and Tom Price has been confirmed as HHS secretary.  Both are pro marijuana legislation and legalization.   This website move helps the transition to a new marijuana policy, removing old and erroneous facts as we begin the process.  


February 28, 2017 - Update

spicer on marijuana


This update includes the recent comments by White House Press secretary Sean Spicer on medical marijuana, as well as Jeffrey Sessions’ recent answers to marijuana questions. 


First, let’s start with the elephant in the room.  Sean Spicer came out last week and said the following on marijuana.



There’s two distinct issues here: medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.

I think medical marijuana, I’ve said before that the President understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them. And that’s one that Congress, through a rider in 2011 — looking for a little help — I think put in an appropriations bill saying the Department of Justice wouldn’t be funded to go after those folks.

There is a big difference between that and recreational marijuana. And I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing that we should be doing is encouraging people. There is still a federal law that we need to abide by in terms of the medical — when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.

So I think there’s a big difference between medical marijuana, which states have a — the states where it’s allowed, in accordance with the appropriations rider, have set forth a process to administer and regulate that usage, versus recreational marijuana. That’s a very, very different subject.



At this point, the entire cannabis industry jumped on the last paragraph and wrote hundreds of articles on the gloom and doom of stricter enforcement of recreational marijuana.



These statements are very positive for the marijuana industry as a whole, not perfect, but a great positive move.  First, the president is very much in favor of medical marijuana.  This is YUUUGE news, because remember, the DEA still has it listed as a schedule 1 drug with NO MEDICINAL VALUE.  The fact that president is all for medical marijuana and believes in it is a big, big win.  That will most likely mean a reschedule of cannabis to a class 2 or even 3 drug.  That would allow interstate commerce as well as full medical research.  No to mention clearing the way for banking and taxation.



Secondarily, he is against recreation marijuana.  So is Mitt Romney, and thousands of other conservative politicians.  Believe it or not, within the marijuana industry, about 20% of the industry would LIKE this result, they want to keep it medical and be by the book, with the highest standards.  Many in the industry actually don’t want recreational cannabis.



Third, Canadian is going full legal on recreational and medical this year.  27 States currently have some form of a medical cannabis statue.   Getting a medical cannabis, although cumbersome in some areas, is certainly not difficult.   The approval rate is somewhere around 97% at last check, so if you want a card, you can get one.  You may not go to your primary care physician yet, but for $100 and an hour of your life, you can get one.



Fourth, Trump is not a business idiot.   As they say in sports and crime drama, always follow the money.   Colorado did over $1billion in sales this year of cannabis.  They raised $200million in taxes.  Legalization has already created more than 250,000 jobs nationwide and that is just in 27 states having relatively limited programs.  Trump will kill tax revenue and jobs in his first year in office when he promised to lower taxes and raise revenue.



Could you live with a Federal medical program that allows for rescheduling the drug, medical research, a federal card so you can travel with your medicine?  Not the end of the world by any stretch.




session on marijuana

Next up, Jeffery Sessions says he will enforce a tougher marijuana policy.


"I'm definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana," he said. "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."

Sessions has not said whether he will revise the Cole memo or step up enforcement in states where pot is legal or decriminalized, but he confirmed Monday that the policy is under review.

"Most states have some limits on it and, already, people are violating those limits," the attorney general said. "We're going to look at it. ... and try to adopt responsible policies."


First off, this is nothing new from Jeffery Sessions.  He has never liked marijuana and has never hidden it.  To be fair, he has said that if Americans don’t want him to enforce the marijuana laws, then change them.



Second, he is careful through all the cannabis questions so say that he needs to adopt responsible policies.  He knows he doesn’t have the money, the votes in congress, or the people’s support to stamp out marijuana.   He must fight a fight that can appease conservatives but also makes rational sense in the world we currently live in.



Do you see him sending in SWAT teams to Aspen dispensaries?  No chance.  Will he look to impede the current recreational spreading of marijuana across the country?  Yes.  This is one area where California, the 4th largest GDP of Europe, voting for recreational cannabis before Trump took office is HUGE for cannabis reform.  If California can protect their own turf from the Feds on recreational marijuana, which they have assemble an all start law team to do it, then the rest of the country will follow suit.



Remember, until you put pen to paper or an executive order, the rest is just interviews and blustering.  Look at how many changes and quotes have come out of the White House in the first 30 days.   We still believe Trump is on the path to a full medical marijuana program, which includes rescheduling and a national medical card.   Recreational will be dicey but in the end the “state’s rights argument” will be triumphant.



There are also 3 to 4 bills currently in Congress now that will attempt to reschedule marijuana as well as decriminalize it. 












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