It is not often that we are able to announce any good news on the DEA front. Although much progress has been made on cannabis law reform, the federal government has largely dug in its heels at every possible turn. But, according to a Forbes report., the DEA, in an upcoming Federal Register filing, is announcing its plan to grow five times more legal cannabis for research next year than is being grown in 2018.
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The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act was introduced a day earlier, and immediately stood out from the plethora of cannabis bills that had already been introduced, but had failed to garner much support. The bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act to exempt those following state laws “relating to the manufacture, production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of [cannabis]."
Despite ominous, if vague, signals of disapproval from the federal government, the legal cannabis industry is widely expected to continue growing at a breakneck speed. Regardless of a scare in January after Jeff Sessions revoked the Cole Memo and its tentative protections for state-legal cannabis operations, all other signs point to a continued rise in the social and political acceptability of cannabis use. In turn, this will keep the space open for the industry’s unprecedented economic boom to continue. It may simply be a matter of keeping operators and investors from panicking until the wider tidal wave of pro-cannabis sentiment drowns out voices like Sessions and his ilk.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to revoke the Obama-era Cole Memo could be his most substantial policy attack on legal cannabis yet, after a year of somewhat mixed signals on the issue. And indeed, it removes an important set of Justice Department guidelines for a rational approach to cannabis enforcement. This move has signaled to states and industry players that the time has come to institute a new way to handle cannabis questions.
In the first few months since Trump has taken office, his administration has expressed some concerning sentiments regarding cannabis. With new Attorney General Jeff Sessions leading the charge, spokespeople for the Trump administration have created an atmosphere of uncertainty, having failed to clarify any official position on the matter.
A new open letter from four governors makes a case to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to maintain existing guidelines on the enforcement of federal cannabis law. The Governors ask the two cabinet members to “engage with us before embarking on any changes to regulatory and enforcement systems.”