Avatar Larissa Gomes |

What is the “Cole Memo”? It is a guidance named after the former Obama Justice Department deputy general who authored it.  The Memo delineates the criteria to follow in order to allow States to implement their own marijuana laws without federal intervention or interference on issues surrounding youth use, impaired driving and interstate trafficking.

It is the Obama era guidance that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rolled back on just last Thursday, January 4th, 2018, not long after his meeting with anti-legalization activists the month before.

Most of his constituents do not agree with this decision.

Let’s be clear, this is not the popular vote either. In fact, it is not reflective of the vote at all. The democratic process which showed that the majority of voters across most states, supported the decriminalization of marijuana has been completely removed from the equation.  It comes as a direct violation of states’ rights, as the Commerce Clause reads in the Constitution that it ‘limits the power of the federal government  to regulate interstate not intrastate commerce.’

There will be several casualties from this move, most of which are patients and innocent Americans who rely on marijuana’s medical properties.  It is an issue of public health and public safety. Parents of children for which marijuana provides relief and healing medicinal properties will have to face the fear of prosecution, as will veterans with PTSD and chronic pain sufferers.  For instance, 12 year old Alexis Bortell’s widely publicized suing of Jeff Sessions to challenge the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, should be moving the meter toward a more compassionate view of medical marijuana. Taking Cannabis oil has been the only treatment that has worked for her severe epilepsy and now she may have to fear retribution by the federal government.

This is a decision that is out of sync with logic, science and public opinion.  Our knowledge of the Cannabis plant today may better be utilized to declassify marijuana as a schedule 1 drug, given what has been learned of the plant’s medicinal properties, yet even the massive cultural shift of de-stigmatization surrounding cannabis does not seem to modify the notions of anti-drug crusaders.

It will exacerbate the already critical opioid crisis to a pandemic level (even though studies have shown that the cannabidioils in cannabis seem to be one thing that can actually quell the epidemic). It will needlessly target youth who use marijuana and create even more wasted funds on legal, court and incarceration costs.

And what of the business side of things?

In terms of investors and stock valuations, even though the Bloomberg headlines last week reported that these stocks plummeted, it is argued that the memo does not actually change much, other than to be thought of as economically unwise. Many believe it will still be the same as the Cole Memo, which allows federal prosecutors to use their discretion. For a booming legal state such a California, it is unlikely any investors will be running scared.  Those that have been active in the industry, already know that no law has actually changed. For businesses, however, it may cause owners to second guess whether they would want to spend money on marketing and advertising. Growers should also be cautious to make sure all is of course fully compliant. Proceeding with vigilance is necessary, as what has changed, are the seats for state U.S attorneys, 3 out of 4 recently in California. That is really what should be most concerning, as a changing of the guard so swiftly before Jeff Sessions’ announcement, could signal that the commercial cannabis industry is a target.

However, one can’t fight the future, and the road ahead for cannabis may already be too big to stop. It is overwhelmingly clear that Americans support cannabis reform and recreational adult use, by 64 percent (Gallup, October 2017). The estimated number of Americans that rely on medical marijuana in 2016 was 2.6 million.  71 percent of Americans (according to Quinnipiac) oppose a federal crackdown in legal states.  Cannabis reform is supported by the majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents. So, will the American people be able to change the course of Jeff Sessions’ latest threat/publicity stunt. Yes weed can!

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