DOJ suspends COLE Memo. Don’t Panic

Jay Lauren

As you may be aware, the Trump Administration rescinded (on 1/4/18) the Cole Memo that prevented Federal Prosecutors at the Department of Justice (DOJ) from pursuing state-legal marijuana businesses.

There is going to be much speculation and “buzz” surrounding this Federal action in the days and weeks ahead, and our advice is simple: DON’T PANIC.

More than 60% of voters in the US now live in states that have passed ballot measures allowing some form of marijuana industry within their states. The industry is NOT in trouble, and there will be interesting times ahead as the DOJ and Federal Government determines the extent of their ability to enforce Federal law in state-legal industries.

The decision to allow the DOJ to enforce Federal marijuana laws does not mean the DOJ or Federal government has either the resources or inclination to do so.

The response by State governments to defend their voter-driven industries against any Federal enforcement or interference may in fact bring matters to a head, Federally, and force the Federal Government to evaluate it’s own laws on marijuana.

The industry needs banking (Federal), uniform guidance from the FDA and the Department of Agriculture (both Federal), tax reform on 280e (Federal), and Indian Affairs (Federal) — not to mention the bigger question of de-scheduling or re-scheduling marijuana. The “status quo” provided by the Cole Memo that’s now been overturned may in fact force Federal issues faced by our industry to move forward.

We look forward to a Federal government that’s engaging in constructive ways with our industry. The overturning of the Cole Memo might be the exact push the Feds need in order to move beyond mere acceptance into recognition of an industry that has well-established roots (and the blessing of voters) in states with marijuana laws across the entire US.