Last month, President Trump made a deal with Colorado Senator Cory Gardner to protect states that have legalized cannabis from facing federal prosecution. While its nice to hear that the rights of states will be upheld, the fact that this agreement is merely a verbal commitment is troubling.
"The country is beyond the tipping point for cannabis, and it's great to hear a reflection of that from the White House, but it doesn't change how we counsel clients," cannabis licensing attorney Ariel Clark told LA Weekly. "Because does the announcement really mean anything? It's not a change in policy."
Clark added that the Trump's cannabis stance is just another part of his administration's chaotic approach to politics.
"The whole country is trying to navigate the policy-by-tweet ethos of this White House; L.A.'s cannabis operators are no different."
Meanwhile, Trump's verbal pledge hasn't reduced tensions in legal states. Take High Times recent Cannabis Cup event in San Bernardino, California for example. Their 4/20 event was forced to go weed-free when the city denied them a license for adult cannabis use.
Clark said that decision was made because "everyone has to be a hardass about following the rules."
She added that the city's decision to allow the event to continue (albeit without weed) shows more of a commitment to the established regulations than an opposition to the cannabis industry. "Complying with every aspect of the law is what 'legalization' is all about," Clark adds.
Alex Traverso, chief of communications with the California Bureau of Cannabis Control, says they worked with High Times to try to get the event licensed, but after missing a key deadline for the cannabis permit, local authorities were taking a hardline approach.
"We wanted more than anything to look at and point to an event that went through the process, got the necessary permit and everything according to the letter," Traverso said of the event. "This is a small example of what's been a larger issue for us the past couple years at all the events, public meetings, different cannabis industry gatherings — you can't go to one without hearing from a number of people concerns about what the federal government is going to do."
So we should expect legal states to strictly enforce regulations until the feds offer concrete protections against federal prosecutions.