2017 Cannabis Regulatory Outlook: A Game of Wait and See

Cannabis Crop ProtectionPerhaps no other event in the movement’s relatively short history cast such a looming shadow over the legal cannabis industry as November’s seismic U.S. presidential election.

As election results rolled in, social media and message boards filled up with folks trying to decipher just what it all meant for a $7.1 billion emerging industry that is expected by some to hit $50 billion by 2026.

The new administration is viewed by many as generally “unfriendly” to legalization in general. If you’re looking at legal cannabis as perhaps a future or even near-present business endeavor (or maybe you have recognized the potential promise and have already waded knee deep into the industry), it’s understandable that you might be a little nervous about what lies ahead.

Don’t panic just yet, however, says Mason Tvert, the 34-year old Communications Director for The Marijuana Policy Project in Colorado. A well-exposed marijuana legalization advocate, The Boston Globe has dubbed Tvert “marijuana’s top evangelist.”

“Support for ending marijuana prohibition is growing rapidly, both in terms of medical and adult use,” Tvert says. “The latest national poll from Quinnipiac University showed 59% of American voters were in support of making marijuana legal for adults, and 93% were in support of medical use.”

And more states than ever are looking at both adult-use and medical marijuana legalization laws, according to Tvert. That assertion is backed up by recent New Frontier Data research that shows a 78% increase year-over-year in cannabis-related bills proposed during the 2015-2016 congressional session.

“There’s really more activity than ever before at both the state level and at the federal level,” he says. “We’re seeing legislation in Congress gaining more traction than previous years, and we’re more bipartisan than ever before. More and more Republicans are co-sponsoring these bills and speaking out in favor of reform.”

On Capitol Hill, the dog with the best chance to hunt currently, according to Tvert, is House Bill 975 (HR-975), or the bi-partisan (eight Republican, eight Democrat co-sponsors) Respect State Marijuana Laws Act. The bill would make law the policy adopted under the Obama Administration of not interfering in state marijuana laws where a sufficient regulatory system is in place and enforcing compliance issues among producers and the distribution channel.

“There are also appropriations amendments that certainly are going to be important in light of questions surrounding what approach the Justice Department will take,” Tvert says. “As of right now the federal budget prohibits the Justice Department from using funds to interfere in state medical marijuana laws. They’re going to be passing a new budget next month, and we are hoping Congress will once again adopt that rider.”

Alternative MMJ Facts

So why all the panic lately around the legal cannabis industry? Because for most of the mainstream media staked out on one side of the aisle or the other on this administration, discussion of maintaining the status quo from the previous administration just doesn’t sound sexy enough.

“That’s exactly what’s happening, is that it’s just being overblown (by the media),” Tvert says. “The administration has not changed courses on marijuana policy. If you look at comments made by the Attorney General, they would seemingly suggest the administration will maintain the same policy or adopt something similar in respect to state marijuana laws. The guidance issued under the previous administration is still in place and they are reviewing it.”

The question for Tvert and his colleagues at The Marijuana Policy Project in Denver is not whether the current administration will adopt a friendly outlook on legal cannabis. It’s more a matter of resource allocation.

“Does the Department of Justice intend to use its limited resources to prioritize the enforcement of federal marijuana laws? And comments Sessions has made suggest they do not. He’s repeatedly acknowledged that they are working with limited resources and could not possibly fully enforce federal marijuana laws in states that have rejected them,” Tvert says.

Financing Possibly Coming Soon?

Just as Tvert has reason for optimism on the legalization side of things, there was good news recently for legal cannabis business operators.

In January, President Trump’s nomination for Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, indicated that he would consider working with federal agencies to make financing and banking more accessible for local cannabis businesses.

According to Justin Strekal, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)’s Political Director, state-licensed marijuana business face a web of conflicting regulations when it comes to finances and tax law.

Specifically, Strekal writes in a blog post at NORML.org, federal prohibitions keep legal cannabis businesses from working with financial institutions, processing credit cards, and taking standard business deductions. When asked about these financial hurdles, Mnuchin says, “I will work with Congress and the President to determine 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.”

Strekal goes on to argue that making sure legal cannabis business operators have fair and equal access to banking and credit is an issue for Congress to take up, but it’s still encouraging to hear that the administration is open to finding something that works for both sides.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

More From Management...
Berger-Equipment

November 17, 2017

How You Can Help Berger in Donating to Hurricane Harvey Victims (While Learning More About Plant Production)

Between Nov. 23-27, Berger will donate $1 for every download of its free technical plant production guides to hurricane relief efforts.

Read More
Damarys-Mora-Crawford-Costa-Farms

November 16, 2017

Costa Farms’ New Marketing Director Eager to Tap Into Changing Consumer Needs

In her new position, Damarys Mora Crawford will lead Costa Farms’ marketing team and create and execute strategic marketing initiatives to support continued sales growth for the company’s retail customers.

Read More
Cordyline Candy Cane (Excelsa Gardens, Inc.)

November 14, 2017

Garden-Retailers Pick Their Favorite Products From The Landscape Show

Grower-retailers have once again named their favorite new products, this time as part of the Cool Product Awards at The Landscape Show 2017 in Orlando, FL. Awards were presented to 12 companies, representing 14 products.

Read More
Latest Stories
Berger-Equipment

November 17, 2017

How You Can Help Berger in Donating to Hurricane Harvey…

Between Nov. 23-27, Berger will donate $1 for every download of its free technical plant production guides to hurricane relief efforts.

Read More
Damarys-Mora-Crawford-Costa-Farms

November 16, 2017

Costa Farms’ New Marketing Director Eager to Tap Into C…

In her new position, Damarys Mora Crawford will lead Costa Farms’ marketing team and create and execute strategic marketing initiatives to support continued sales growth for the company’s retail customers.

Read More
Cordyline Candy Cane (Excelsa Gardens, Inc.)

November 14, 2017

Garden-Retailers Pick Their Favorite Products From The …

Grower-retailers have once again named their favorite new products, this time as part of the Cool Product Awards at The Landscape Show 2017 in Orlando, FL. Awards were presented to 12 companies, representing 14 products.

Read More
Seed-Your-Future-feature

November 9, 2017

Dümmen Orange Throws Support Behind Seed Your Future In…

Dümmen Orange has announced it will pledge $450,000 over the next three years to Seed Your Future, the non-profit organization whose mission is to promote horticulture in the U.S. and inspire people to pursue careers working with plants.

Read More
Speedling-Environmental-Award

November 9, 2017

Speedling Wins Environmental Leadership Award From Flor…

Speedling has eight nurseries throughout the country and two in Florida, where moisture levels are carefully analyzed to improve performance and consistency of transplant operations.

Read More
Arden-Bull-Feature

November 8, 2017

Veteran Ornamental Crop Protection Leader Arden Bull Re…

Arden’s career spanned 47 years in specialty crop protection, including leading ornamental sales at Nufarm Americas for the past 12 years.

Read More
Cannabis at Solstice feature

November 5, 2017

The Intricate Journey of Cannabis From Black Market to …

As cannabis moves out of the shadows and into the limelight, an industry replete with untapped potential also faces the burden of new complications.

Read More
Monarch School of New England

November 3, 2017

National Garden Bureau, Sakata Seed America Award Grant…

The three winners were selected after a two-week online voting process, and will receive grants totaling $5,000.

Read More
Biocontrols in a Greenhouse

November 3, 2017

Take Greenhouse Grower’s 2018 State of the Indust…

Growers and others associated with the greenhouse business often ask the Greenhouse Grower editorial staff where we get ideas for stories. The Answer: You! That's why we're asking you to please take some time to answer our annual State of the Industry survey.

Read More
Chinook Sunrise Rose at Vineland

November 2, 2017

Vineland Research Centre Highlights Latest Greenhouse R…

The Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario, Canada, is a hotbed of new research in greenhouse production. Recently, the Centre released its latest Innovations Report, an annual publication that highlights some of the major projects taking place at the Centre.

Read More

November 1, 2017

Technology Is Changing the Game for Growers

Technology is sexy. There’s a fervor associated with buying the latest go-go-gadget — and a fear of missing out if we don’t. We all want that latest, most advanced smartphone, home assistant, or wearable tech, no matter the cost. And jobs associated with technology? Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter — offer some of the most competitive and coveted positions on the planet. Just look at the stir Amazon made when it announced it would build a $50 billion second headquarters, with cities from all over North America clamoring to be the one chosen, considering the significant economic potential. Technology and tech jobs are it — and it’s no wonder growers don’t feel jobs in horticulture can compete. But what if they can? If tech jobs are the future and the future of horticulture depends on technology, then we have a real opportunity to seize. Millennials who have grown up […]

Read More
Smith Gardens Tornado Damage

October 31, 2017

Smith Gardens Suffers Tornado Damage, Still Plans to Sh…

While most of the damage was structural and only 2% of the crops were lost from the October 12 twister, the company says there is still plenty of cleanup planned.

Read More
Ernest Wertheim

October 31, 2017

Here’s Your Chance to Hear From Industry Legend Ernest …

During Cultivate’17, AmericanHort recorded a video interview with Ernest Wertheim, a passionate horticulture industry advocate and business owner for more than 75 years.

Read More
Living Umbrellas

October 25, 2017

Why Living Umbrellas May Have a Bright Future

Sometimes innovation strikes by chance. Such was the case with David Tilley, developer of the “Living Umbrella.”

Read More
cuttings-facility

October 23, 2017

New Pilot Project for Offshore Unrooted Plant Cutting C…

Four breeders — Ball Horticultural Co., Dümmen Orange, Proven Winners, and Syngenta Flowers — will participate in the initial pilot, which will include greenhouse growing operations in six Latin American countries.

Read More
Capitol Hill_ feature

October 19, 2017

AmericanHort’s Main Priorities After Impact Washi…

Now that Impact Washington is over, AmericanHort, with industry support, is looking to continue its focus on tax reform, labor reform, and research and innovation.

Read More
Petal It Forward 2017

October 17, 2017

Petal It Forward Event a Hit for Both Industry Members …

Check out how this year’s Petal It Forward event brought smiling faces to people across the country, including one personal story.

Read More
Karen Reardon, RISE

October 15, 2017

Karen Reardon of RISE Honored by CropLife America

CropLife America presented Reardon with its highest staff award for her successful effort to defend against the ban of pesticide use on private property in Maryland.

Read More