It is the morning after the 2016 elections and I’m still having a WTF moment. I did not expect to be waking up to a President Trump, and the notion of The Donald as our Commander In Chief for the next four years seems more than a little surreal.
But despite the disappointing news, last night was a clear victory for those of us in legal cannabis. Like most of my peers, I am excited to see the marijuana reform movement achieve critical mass, even as I remain unsure of what sort of Federal Drug Policy a Trump administration might take, given likely prominent roles by prohibitionists Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani.
Overwhelming, ‘we the people’ have voted for legal cannabis. History was made last night, as the country added 4 new adult-use marijuana states – California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts – doubling the total to 8 states plus D.C. and affirming once and for all that the public has had enough of the failed War on Drugs.
With the entire Pacific corridor now a legal cannabis zone, federal enforcement of prohibition becomes “untenable” President Obama recently told HBO’s Bill Maher. However, that doesn’t mean that a conservative administration won’t make life more difficult for legal cannabis states to create and maintain regulated legal markets.
Many remain nervous. A cannabis attorney I spoke with this morning suggested that this election could mean huge changes to his business, and could easily dampen the growth of the budding industry that he and his firm have helped to create.
At a NORML Women of Washington fundraiser last night, dozens of industry folks gathered to watch the election results. Many were shocked by the rejection of Hillary Clinton, and feared what it might mean to hard-fought victories of women and minority communities. “Although I am happy about the major advances for marijuana legalization that happened all over the country last night, and what that means for my company and our culture, it is impossible for me to celebrate as I have never felt so devalued as a woman,” Cannabis Basics’ CEO Ah Warner told MJNN. “The fact that quite possibly the most qualified candidate ever lost her bid for the Oval to the personification of celebrity, bigotry, misogyny and greed is a devastating wakeup call about who we really are as a country. My heart bleeds for the women, no matter what their accomplishments, who will go to their graves knowing that they were never more than second class citizens.”
Others are optimistic about the economic opportunity of the expanding legal marketplace. “My business just got better,” a cannabis media executive told me. “Eight new markets just opened up. Think of all the new brands that need building, all the companies who will need our expertise and advice. I’m excited! We’re ratcheting our industry up to the next level.”
For while voters soundly rejected Hillary Clinton and the political status quo, Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike overwhelmingly embraced legal weed. The legal cannabis genie is out of the bottle as the topic of legalization take its rightful place on the centerstage of political discourse, creating a dissonance between federal and state law that will force a change in federal marijuana policy.
What began as an “experiment” in Colorado and Washington just four years ago has now spread from coast to coast, in red states and blue states. Last night’s election was a victory for America’s fastest growing industry – and it will certainly mean new interest, investment and acceptance.