I’ve repeatedly argued that legal marijuana – which will be a $24 billion industry by 2025 – is an unstoppable freight train, and that there’s hardly a thing Sessions can do about it. I’ve said it here – and to thousands of additional people who tuned in to my Pot Stock Summit last month.
I’ve come one step short of shouting it from the rooftops.
That’s no idle talk, either. As of right now, we’ve got 100% confirmation that Sessions has been totally beaten in his quest to roll back the pot prohibition clock to 1968.
Here’s how we got it: We went right into the “belly of the beast.”
When one of the largest marijuana business conferences in the country came to the Washington, D.C., area last month, my team jumped at the chance to head down I-95 to get the inside dirt.
We found that people in-the-know – politicians, former high-level government staffers, deep-pocketed investors, and even bankers – know that Sessions has already lost.
More importantly, my team talked directly with a fleet of A-list insiders who confirmed it. None was more calming than guy who literally wrote the book on federal marijuana guidance.
Legal Weed Bulls Aren’t Just Blowing Smoke
We caught up with John Vardaman, the former assistant deputy chief of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) who helped write the Cole Memo in 2013 and follow-up guidance a year later.
The Cole Memo directed U.S. attorneys to “not focus federal resources… on individuals whose actions are in… compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.”
Vardaman told us that Sessions (or anyone else) would have a messy web to untangle if he tried to make an end run around the directives laid out in the Cole Memo.
In addition, the amount of manpower at the DOJ – which is already understaffed and strained – needed to execute a war against legal marijuana would be nearly impossible to create or manage going forward.
Besides, what’s on the books “is working,” Vardaman tells us.
U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who spoke during a panel talk at the conference, has been gloom-and-doom about almost everything since President Donald Trump took office. That is, except on the momentum of cannabis legalization.
Blumenauer said the atmosphere on Capitol Hill is the most positive and optimistic he’s ever seen regarding legalized marijuana.
“This is something that came from the people – this is truly grassroots,” said the longtime lawmaker and recent cofounder of the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus. “What the voters think, that is what gets attention on Capitol Hill.”
Blumenauer and, more importantly, a growing cohort of influential Republicans have recently filed various bills in the House and Senate to ease harsh regulations that prevent state-licensed marijuana business operators from participating in traditional banking tools.
Even without a guarantee of passage of any of these bills this year, a number of industry insiders told us about the steady emergence of small, federally insured banks quietly getting involved in the marijuana space already.
You see, getting your marijuana company listed on the stock market is a critical step in growing your business… but being able to deal with a bona fide bank on a daily basis is truly invaluable.
Can you imagine what would have happened to, say, Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOGL) back in the day if Larry Page or Sergei Brin had to stuff cash under their mattress or in a safe somewhere because they didn’t have access to traditional banking?
This news is huge for investors, because the emerging marijuana industry absolutely needs ongoing and increased support from banks and other lenders. Too much of their business is still conducted on a cash-only basis.
Getting traditional, federally insured banks involved more will improve safety and transparency for everyone, from operators to regulators to investors.
And on the shareholder side, these businesses will have a much better chance of listing if they have access to the same financial services as every other law-abiding U.S. company.
We’re not done hitting the street for the very latest in this booming sector.
My team and I will be at the Cannabis Business Summit & Expo in Oakland, Calif., starting June 12. We’ll be talking to more insiders and bringing you more insights directly from the West Coast’s landmark weed event. It should be extremely illuminating, considering that California – and specifically “Oaksterdam” – is ground zero for legal marijuana.