By: Susan Gunelius
When Attorney General Jeff Sessions tendered his resignation on November 7th, the cannabis industry took notice. As one of the most vocal marijuana opponents in the highest level of U.S. government, his resignation could pave the way for federal legalization.
With Matthew Whitaker set to take Sessions’ place, the industry could be poised for significant change in the near future. How do cannabis industry insiders feel about this news? Will it be as groundbreaking as many hope? Here are insights and predictions from 10 cannabis and hemp industry executives to provide some perspective.
Derek Peterson, CEO of Terra Tech
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been an impediment to the growth of the regulated cannabis industry. We believe we are at a tipping point nationally in terms of voter sentiment as well as support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. With Pete Sessions being voted out [of Congress] and Jeff Sessions resigning, the corridor is now open to accelerate a states’ rights approach to regulating the cannabis industry.”
Isaac Dietrich, CEO of MassRoots
“We believe it’s increasingly likely Congress could take action to regulate and tax cannabis at the federal level. We expect the perceived risks related to the cannabis industry to continue to dissipate, which could lead to a shift of institutional capital and interest from Canadian licensed producers to companies focused on the regulated United States market.”
Charlie Finnie, Chief Strategy Officer of MariMed Inc.
“Although we wish Mr. Sessions well, he was woefully out of step with the American people with regard to the myriad health and wellness benefits of cannabis. When the Republican ex-speaker of the House John Boehner writes an Op-Ed piece entitled ‘Cannabis Should be Legalized,’ that tells you all you need to know.”
Khurram Malik, CEO of Biome
“AG Sessions’ anti-cannabis rhetoric was a lot stronger than any other part of the federal government, including Congress and the White House, and quite a few things he announced were inconsistent with other parts of the government. Ultimately, most of his anti-cannabis rhetoric and attempted policies did not have a granular impact.
“The hope is that there will be a lot less confusion and distracting noise coming out of the AG’s office on a go forward basis. We also still expect the White House to move forward with legalizing medical cannabis at the federal level before the 2020 elections, and having an AG that is on board with that would be helpful for all.”
Dr. Stuart Titus, CEO of Medical Marijuana Inc.
“The unexpected resignation of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions represents another positive event for the cannabis industry. Sessions’ stance on cannabis had been a major impediment toward cannabis reform, and now industry participants hold new hopes for sweeping change at the Federal level. Along with the defeat of Pete Sessions in the U.S. House of Representatives, there is renewed enthusiasm for cannabis-friendly legislation to be passed in the coming year.”
Jeffrey M. Zucker, President of Green Lion Partners
“Jeff Sessions and his ignorance leaving office is a definite win for cannabis patients, the movement and the fight to end the drug war and its racially disparate enforcement as a whole. We’ll have to wait and see how Matthew Whitaker approaches cannabis, but it can’t get much worse than Sessions, and hopefully, this is the start of some federal progress and protection for those participating in cannabis in the many states that have enacted laws. President Trump has seemed amenable to making cannabis a states’ rights issue, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we see changes to that effect on the federal level in the near future.”
George Archos, CEO of Verano Holdings
“The election results send a clear message that more Americans want access to medical or adult-use cannabis because they have taken the time to get educated about cannabis’ proven health benefits. Former AG Sessions and other government officials lose credibility by maintaining that cannabis has no medicinal value when our own FDA has approved a cannabis-derived drug for treating epilepsy.”
“President Trump has repeatedly stated he will protect states’ rights relative to cannabis, and more recently, he stated he is exploring ending the prohibition on cannabis. We are optimistic that a new Attorney General will take President Trump’s cue and quickly reinstate the Cole memo to end ambiguity regarding states’ rights in this matter.”
“Additionally, we hope the new Attorney General will determine that it is not wise to spend tax dollars on incarcerating thousands of people for marijuana convictions when cannabis has been proven to be safer than the alcohol found in almost every American household.”
Wil Ralston, President of SinglePoint
“Jeff Sessions’ resignation could be a huge event for the cannabis industry since he has openly been against the industry and used his powers to slow its growth. One of the biggest potentials here is opening up access to banking.”
Frank Lane, President of CFN Media
“The resignation of Jeff Sessions marks another key turning point for the cannabis industry, removing a key obstructionist to cannabis reform from the Justice Department. Many cannabis stocks have already surged following the news in hopes that the resignation will usher in a change to federal cannabis policy, including passage of the STATES Act. We are cautiously optimistic.”
Bruce Perlowin, CEO of Hemp, Inc.
“Sessions has long been a hindrance to the growth of the marijuana and hemp infrastructure in the U.S. and it’s a huge win for the industry to see him resign. We are currently in the process of creating jobs for rural farmers throughout the U.S. by creating a chain of local processing centers so farmers can switch to hemp and make a profit, and this latest policy development should lead to real change that can create jobs and spur an agricultural revolution throughout the U.S.”
One thing is clear based on these ten cannabis executives’ perspectives. The resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to be a positive change for the marijuana industry. With more Americans as well as an increasing number of Republicans and Democrats at all levels of government supporting legalization, cannabis-industry insiders see Sessions’ resignation as a key step forward.