Despite the antiquated and silly beliefs of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Americans are more than ready for the green gold rush that legal marijuana could provide the nation.
Sessions is, unfortunately, an old fuddy-duddy when it comes to marijuana, having recently rolled back previous federal protections for states such as Colorado and Washington where wacky tobacc-y is allowed. This has led to a massive rift in the marijuana economy, where intelligent investors have been keen to see where legal weed could take the country.
Julie Hill, a University of Alabama Law School professor who specializes in cannabis and banking regulation, said it’s still not clear how federal agencies will react.
“The FDIC and OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] don’t have their own guidance and they now have dueling pronouncements on marijuana,” Hill said. It is possible that other agencies could develop their own more rigorous requirements that could make cannabis banking more complex and costly, she said.
Even with the FinCEN guidance in place, many cannabis businesses struggle when it comes to banking. Dispensaries in some states, including California and Nevada, still lack banking services. And accounts are expensive at the few banks that do serve the industry.
As the effects of Sessions’ fault decree reverberated around the nation, the Attorney General himself must have been feeling the pressure. Just months after rescinding the Cole Memo, (which instructed the feds to keep their sticky fingers our of the pot-cookie jar), Sessions walked back some of his previous rhetoric in order to shore up confidence in the budding industry.
Federal prosecutors won’t take on small-time marijuana cases, despite the Justice Department’sthat discouraged U.S. authorities from cracking down on the pot trade in states where the drug is legal, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Saturday. Federal law enforcement lacks the resources to take on “routine cases” and will continue to focus on drug gangs and larger conspiracies, Sessions said, speaking at a Federalist Society event in Washington, D.C.
The comments come after the Trump administration in January threw the burgeoning marijuana legalization movement into uncertainty by reversing the largely hands-off approach that prevailed during the Obama administration, saying federal prosecutors should instead handle marijuana cases however they see fit.
In addition, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul recently announced that they would be working with their fellow Congressmen and Women in order to re-legalize the growing and use of industrial hemp – a longtime, non-psychoactive staple of American society that was adversely affected by the prohibition on marijuana the drug.
Even in the face of all of this adversity, however, legal marijuana is well on its way to becoming a massive factor in the American economy for decades to come.
The U.S. legal cannabis industry is expected to reach $75 billion in sales by 2030, according to research firm Cowen & Co. That’s almost as large as the North American carbonated soft drink market in 2017.
With the industries’ diverging trajectories, weed may be poised to take the mantle as the larger industry. Cannabis is growing rapidly as more states legalize the plant. Nine states and Washington, D.C. now allow for recreational pot use. That means more than one in five American adults can smoke, vape, eat or drink it however they please. Cowen previously predicted that the market, assuming federal legalization, would reach $50 billion by 2026. That seems small now, according to analyst Vivien Azer.
“New forecasts suggest that the market is already that size,” she said in a note Wednesday.
Meanwhile, soda sales are on the decline as increasingly health-conscious consumers eschew sugary drinks. Per capita carbonated soft drink consumption declined to a 31-year low in the U.S. in 2016, according to Beverage-Digest, a trade publication. The market in North America fell to $76.4 billion last year from $78.3 billion in 2016, data from Euromontior International shows.
And, given some of marijuana’s more well known side effects, we might suggest looking to invest in Doritos, Domino’s Pizza, and Visine as well.