As I write this, Donald Trump is one year into his four-year term as President of the United States. What have we learned to date? To put it simply, we’ve learned that Donald Trump says one thing on the campaign trail, but a completely different thing in the White House. That’s a dangerous precedent to set. Case in point: his stance on marijuana legalization.
Donald Trump announced his run for president on June 16, 2015. Four months later, and repeatedly throughout the next year, Trump’s pledges on the issue of marijuana legalization could be encapsulated by this quote from the The Washington Post:
“In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state. I think medical should happen — right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.”
That’s pretty clear, don’t you think? Fast-forward to February 28, 2017—a little more than a month after he took office—and senior Trump administration officials were already hinting that they planned to more strictly enforce federal drug laws. In effect, those federal laws would trump (no pun intended) the state laws that were voted on by the people who live there. Marijuana legalization would no longer be a state issue. That flies directly in the face of everything Trump said during his 17 months on the campaign trail.
And it’s not like no one saw this issue coming. It wasn’t a surprise. We’ve been talking about marijuana legalization for five years. That’s plenty of time to at least form an opinion. But still, Trump can’t make up his mind. So can we take anything President Trump says seriously? Only time will tell.
This conflicted, convoluted, and inconsistent message has left cannabis entrepreneurs—many of whom may have voted for Trump because of his campaign “promises”—wondering what the future holds for their now thriving businesses. And thriving they are.
Legal marijuana sales in Colorado alone topped $1 billion in 2016. That’s billion with a “b.” That’s a large number in and of itself, but just think of the tax revenue brought in by state and local jurisdictions. According to the website Colorado.gov and the publication Colorado Use/Tax Rates (DR1002), the consumer tax rate approaches 15% (depending on location), which—when multiplied by $1 billion—equals (conservatively) $150 million in tax revenue that can be used for things like infrastructure and schools. That’s a lot for an industry that no one in the federal government is even sure will be allowed to continue.
That brings us back around to the cannabis entrepreneurs who have worked so hard to build their legal (according to the states and their citizenry, at least) business up from scratch. In light of the uncertainty that surrounds cannabis in this country, should they continue growing their businessesin a landscape where the future is so volatile?
In a word, yes. Cannabis entrepreneurs should continue sailing toward the horizon and shouldn’t alter course one bit. Whether it’s recognized as legal by the federal government or not, the cannabis industry is experiencing huge growth.
And that growth isn’t just limited to sales. Investors are seeing the power and potential that our burgeoning industry holds and are jumping on board in droves. Very soon, should Trump and his administration choose to overturn the Cole Memo (the Obama-era deprioritization of federal marijuana enforcement in states where the drug is legal), they could find themselves in a fight—not just with the American people who have voted to legalize marijuana, but with a newly-created, very-well-funded marijuana lobby backed by investors, growers, and dispensaries around the country.
In effect, the cannabis industry doesn’t yet know how much power it can exert on the legislators in this country. Why? Because there hasn’t been a need to flex those money-based muscles. But, if the rumblings in Washington turn out to be true, that time may be rapidly approaching. In the meantime, we wait. But that’s not a bad thing, either.
I like to look at this uncertainty, this holding pattern, if you will, as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to make plans for the future. Are you thinking about expanding into recreational marijuana? Are you considering expanding your product line to include more varieties? Are you looking to get into a bigger space in anticipation of increased demand?
Now is the time to begin laying the groundwork for that growth. I’m not saying you have to pull the trigger on any major endeavor. But you can start scouting locations, talking to builders, lining up funding. That way, when the dust finally settles, and the Trump administration realizes they’re butting heads with an immovable object, you’re not left struggling to catch up.
The cannabis industry is here to stay. It’s a wave that has yet to crest … regardless of how a flip-flopping, wet-behind-the-ears president and his naive attorney general feel. Take advantage of this fact and forge ahead with the growth of your business. Soon, all the uncertainty will be gone and you—the cannabis entrepreneur—will be at the forefront of a multi-billion dollar industry (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) that has finally moved from basements and backrooms to glittery storefronts on Main Street. Make plans and keep true to experience that future for yourself.
Serge Chistov is the financial partner for Honest Marijuana Company, which uses all-natural cultivation methods to produce only the finest organic and eco-conscious cannabis products. Their marijuana is packaged in Earth-friendly recyclable tin cans with pure nitrogen to ensure only the highest level of integrity and quality. The company also recently launched their new Honest Blunts, the first organic hemp-wrapped, machine-rolled cannabis blunts. Visit the site at https://honestmarijuana.com/.