Will Trump and Sessions Allow Legal Cannabis to Thrive in 2018?

The largest risk of running a cannabis business in the U.S. is that it is still federally illegal. Leading to his election, President Donald Trump approved of medical marijuana. But that statement seemed to be simply fuel for his campaign trail. Trump’s attorney general Jeff Sessions recently took a firm anti-marijuana stance. He compared marijuana to other Class A drugs, calling it “only slightly less awful” than heroin.

Sessions positioning when it comes to marijuana certainly threatens the industry. But that hasn’t stopped entrepreneurs from getting their hands on a new market.

According to BDS analytics, the industry has expanded in both sales and geography. North America spending on legal cannabis topped $7.3 billion in 2016 and grew 33% to $9.7 billion at the end of 2017. Experts expect an even bigger jump in 2018, with California, Maine, and Massachusetts scheduled to open recreational use markets. The Cannabis Business Alliance says there’s an even longer list of states who have motioned ballet initiatives to legalize recreational cannabis.

Cannabis Companies are Becoming More Transparent and Professional

trump, sessions, and legal marijuana
Nevada Senator Tick Segerblom was the first customer at The Source buying recreational cannabis. Via Forbes

Why are cannabis companies succeeding at the moment? According to Ben Larson, co-founder of Gateway Accelerator, companies are trending towards transparency and professionalism. Larson’s accelerator has helped 19 cannabis-related startups to launch. He also notes that companies are also becoming more involved in philanthropy and charitable giving. For example, a dispensary chain in Dever called Lightshade will be donating a portion of profits to the Amazing Grace Comunity Church in the area.

Creative Solutions to Limitations and Restrictions

The legal industry will bring a whole new set of limitations and regulations. Marketing and advertising is an area that will be fiercely monitored by regulators. Snoop Dogg, a mogul in the cannabis industry, has already branded his products in plain and discrete packaging. This all to conform to Californian legalization regulations and Canadian limitations arriving in July 2018.

In addition, the Merry Jane Media Company has discovered a way to subtly call out to cannabis-enthusiasts in their marketing. They have partnered with Jack-in-the-Box to offer the MERRY munchie Meal. Here are the franchise locations in California they will be available.

But even with businesses operating as creatively as possible, the question remains: will the legal cannabis industry be allowed to thrive? Or will the Trump administration collapse the whole industry and put ganjapreneurs in prison?

Only time will tell.