Are Republicans the Best Thing to Happen to Cannabis? by Charlie Rutherford


In the lead-up to the 2016 election, I told Seth Adler of Cannabis Economy I believed the cannabis industry would be better served by Trump and Republicans vs Hillary and Democrats. My unpopular hot take was based on the view that a political party fully supportive of private enterprise but not yet supportive of cannabis was better than a party hostile to private enterprise but supportive of cannabis.

How’s that turned out?

Nearly three years after the shockwave of the 2016 election a number of weeks after the 2018 midterms, it looks like Trump and key Republicans have been the best thing to ever happen to cannabis, even if by accident.

“Charlie, you’re an Idiot!” you scoff. “Trump’s (former) AG, Jeff Sessions, rescinded the Cole Memos!” Well…

As Mr. Cole told Seth himself, the Cole Memos (Yes, there was more than one memo. Check out Cannabis Economy ep 140.) were never a permanent solution to the collision of state and federal cannabis law. As Sessions showed, the memos were only as good as the AG’s personal feelings on them.

The memos were the best that could be done to provide clarity on enforcement during complete inaction by Democratic majorities in the House and Senate during Obama’s tenure. Democrats had could have passed anything they wanted with the size majorities they had, but they avoided every chance to lift a finger for the industry.

Democrats could have mobilized to get the federal government out of the way of legally-operating state cannabis programs. They could have passed legislation burying 280E, taking the heavy boot of government off the throat of plant-touching business by allowing them to write off normal business expenses. Democrats could have normalized banking in order to bring some relief to canna-business at the mercy of feds flexing at banks holding cannabis cash. Democrats could have protected the industry from raids on providers doing what was legal in their respective states.

In 2018 when the industry’s favorite villain rescinded the Cole Memo, there was no shortage of breathless columns written on our decreasing distance from the sky. I said at the time that Jeff Sessions had given us a tremendous gift because it would force congress to get to work protecting the fastest growing industry in America. And on the way to the Cole Memos’ funeral, something funny happened. A key Republican lawmaker acted.

First, in part to protect his state’s cannabis constituents, Republican Senator Cory Gardner of purplish Colorado, threatened obstruction of Trump’s Department of Justice nominations to compel the administration to clarify whether they’d interfere with cannabis law, which encouraged Trump to publicly re-affirm his position on states rights and vow to support legislation making it permanent.

Republican Senator Gardner had reached across the proverbial isle to Democrat Warren in the Senate and Blumenauer in the House and with the help of Republican Congressman Joyce began wrangling a growing armada of bipartisan co-sponsors of a bill supported by the group dedicated to primarily Republican outreach called the New Federalism Fund. The goal of the STATES Act is “…to bring federal drug policy back into alignment with the 10th Amendment, allowing each state to determine the best cannabis policy for their citizens. This is as the Founders would have intended, making the STATES Act an important step towards a humane and constitutional federal cannabis policy.”

Where are we now?

The 2018 midterm elections saw Democrats successfully displace enough Republicans from traditionally red districts to secure a House majority, which will allow the STATES Act to begin the journey to Trump’s desk. Many in the Republican Senate majority owe their political fortunes to Trump and with plenty of Democrats in support, Trump, a Republican president, could sign a law finally setting cannabis free.

Written by my friend: Charles “Charlie” Rutherford
Originally Posted by: Cannabis Economy
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