This article originally appeared on The Fresh Toast
Although it could still be decades before marijuana is legalized at the national level, the sale of cannabis products in states that have allowed this newfound industry to operate the same as any other part of legitimate commerce is growing faster with each passing year.
Some of the latest data from the folks at Marijuana Business Daily indicates that recreational marijuana sales could increase by around 45 percent next year, giving way to an economic impact of almost $70 billion by 2021. But the market, while having absolutely no trouble proving its potential as a great American money-maker, is in a volatile state right now, because no one in the cannabis industry has any idea how President Trump and his lead henchman, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are going to respond to legal weed.
Earlier this week, Representative Earl Blumenauer, a member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus that believes Trump is “essentially irrelevant” when it comes to pot progress in the United States, told those in attendance at the Marijuana Business Conference & Expo in the District of Columbia that marijuana would be legal at the national level within the next four years.
However, Chris Walsh, editorial director at Marijuana Business Daily, says that legalizing marijuana at the national level might not be the best course of action.
He says that cannabis investments continue to grow, but no large investors are even dabbling in pot stocks because they are worried that Uncle Sam will bring down the hammer. This situation is providing plenty of opportunities in legal states for more small to medium sized companies to get a piece of the action. In a federally taxed and regulated marijuana marketplace, this would be more difficult to do, Walsh told MarketWatch.
When marijuana prohibition ends nationwide, the cannabis industry is expected to change drastically, he explained.
It could “look like the beer industry where a couple big companies own most of the market and there’s a subset of craft breweries?” Walsh said.
Regardless of the threats coming from the Justice Department signaling the potential for a federal crackdown, many lawmakers believe it would be next to impossible for the Trump administration to sabotage the progress marijuana legalization has made over the past several decades.
“America is not going to go backwards on their policy,” Senator Positive Nelson of the U.S. Virgin Islands told the VI Consortium earlier this week. “The Jeff Sessions talk is just that, talk. What they’ve already seen is the billions of dollars that marijuana has made. America is a capitalistic nation, as we know. Republicans are about the money. The only thing Trump is really venting about is anything that was done under the Obama Administration. But the truth of the matter is America is not going to let this president or any future president roll back on [marijuana].”
Marijuana legalization is likely here to stay– there are just too many variables at work to just cut its head off and wait for it to die. However, as Walsh points out, the real question (or concern) should be more about what the cannabis industry will look like if legalized at the federal level. This should be more of a concern than the actions of the Attorney General.