On November 8, 2016, all of California was celebrating the official ballot votes approving Proposition 64. For those in Santa Monica, cannabis for recreational purposes was legal, and everywhere else in the state, too. Anyone over the age of 21 could use weed, carry it on their person, and even grow some at home. However, everyone is now anxious with President Trump being in office.
Just ten days after his election, Trump instated Jeff Sessions as head of the Department of Justice. Sessions is an Alabama senator with strong opposing views on marijuana. Trepidation is now pervasive in L.A.’s cannabis industry, and stakeholders are extremely insecure about what will happen next or how to proceed. After all, cannabis is still illegal under federal law.
California’s marijuana industry feels under threat. Santa Monica cannabis industry do not feel that they have sufficient legal protection. Although Proposition 64 legalizes recreational weed, cannabis consultants are advising their clients to apply for medical licenses through the State of California instead of recreational ones. Federal uncertainty is affecting the stability of Santa Monica’s cannabis industry significantly.
Medical vs. Recreational Cannabis in Santa Monica
The decision to apply for medical licenses and not recreational ones is a “no-brainer” under the circumstances. According to Business Insider, both Trump and Sessions see a distinction between recreational and medicinal use of marijuana. This clearly indicates that medical use warrants more protection than recreational use, which the federal government seems intent on reversing progress.
Those using marijuana in Santa Monica should not assume that the federal government would respect state laws, or leave businesses alone that supply to those feigning illnesses. If there is one fact we know about L.A.’s medical cannabis industry, it is that it is a ticking time bomb for quasi-legalization. It would be extremely easy for Sessions and Trump to get Congress to close any loopholes.
Lack of Investor Confidence
Such legal insecurities have inevitable consequences. Investors interested in the predicted explosion of L.A.’s cannabis industry are hesitating. Even so, there still appears to be growing interest in it. Investors are not running away, merely rethinking their strategies. Although there is some capital withdrawal, there are still many Wall Street types watching this market and acting on it.
Santa Monica cannabis businesses have deep concerns about what Sessions will do, but they are nonetheless moving forward. Some are watching, some are waiting, but everyone is carrying on with usual business. California legalizing both medical and recreational weed is progressing the marijuana industry so far that it may be impossible for the federal government to have any significant impact.
Although many of Santa Monica’s marijuana users are queasy about Trump, Sessions, and their impact on federal law, the uncertainty is not changing their mindsets or behavior. Companies are still in talks with serious investors, most of whom still show massive interest in continuing, and people are still using marijuana medicinally and recreationally, possibly more than ever before. Growth continues unabated.
Future of Santa Monica Cannabis Industry
Some cannabis advocates in Washington, D.C., believe that investing in L.A.’s marijuana industry is an intelligent move. Up for renewal in April is a spending bill, which will include an amendment to protect medical marijuana programs in legalized states from interference by the Justice Department. This amendment is very likely to pass through legislature, or at the very least, a similar one could.
Experts claim that, at this point, there is nothing to stop investors from exploring cannabis business opportunities in Santa Monica. According to Forbes, in the end, the level of interference by the federal government will depend largely on what resources Sessions wants to invest in regulation. The Department of Justice is still clarifying its priorities.
Current federal law gives Sessions the ability to close the recreational marijuana market immediately. However, he may decide to focus on other issues instead, such as immigration, and leave the cannabis industry alone. Regardless of the outcome, it has never been more important for states and cities to draft their own cannabis regulations, as doing so will offer protection from the federal government.
L.A.’s cannabis industry is moving in the right direction. The City Council recently passed Measure M, which allows it to regulate and license marijuana business. However, to gain true independence from federal interference, the city must still work out the specifics and logistics of it; including how many of Santa Monica’s currently operating dispensaries should get legal status.
Although the uncertainty of Sessions’ plans is having an effect on marijuana business, Santa Monica’s cannabis industry continues to blossom. The state is being proactive, even with little time available to it. You can still order marijuana online in Santa Monica and have it delivered to your doorstep.