The marijuana industry is facing an existential threat. Of course, cannabis has always faced an existential crisis, when you think about it. But facing an incoming President Trump presents a whole new set of obstacles. During the 2016 election, voters really didn’t have an incredibly solid idea of where either candidate stood on the topic of marijuana. While neither directly said they wanted to pull the plug on legalization, there were fears that the incoming president could take a drastically different approach than President Obama had.
Even now, with Trump in the White House, we still don’t know what’s going to happen. So far, it doesn’t look good. Trump nominated Jeff Sessions, a man who has remained staunchly opposed to marijuana, to be his Attorney General. That was a bad sign, especially since Sessions was confirmed.
But Trump is also a businessman who adores adoration. It’s hard to think he would want to use the federal government to squash the cannabis industry, put thousands out of work, erase massive amounts of tax revenue, and go against public opinion. For a man who wants to be respected, this would likely not do the trick. As such, here we are — still without an inkling as to what might happen.
A new report from MJBizDaily has taken the initiative, however. The report lays out the five ways in which President Trump can handle the marijuana industry, ranging from a full-on shutdown to full-fledged support. On the next several pages, we lay out those five scenarios.
Here are the five ways things could shake out for the marijuana industry under Trump’s reign.
1. Trump pulls the plug
This is the doomsday scenario: The Trump administration shuts everything down. Seeing as how cannabis is still a Schedule I drug, this is well within the realm of possibility. The federal government could shut down growers, processors, sellers, and even prosecute people for their involvement. Of course, this would be wildly unpopular. Tens of thousands of jobs would be lost, and many businesses would be sunk.
This seems unlikely, but it could happen. Republicans tend to like allowing states to do what they want, and this would be a huge step by the federal government that many would oppose.
2. Recreational markets are shut down
Scenario number two would more or less be a return to the gray market that existed prior to Colorado and Washington passing legalization measures. This would allow medical marijuana to continue under existing state laws, but stop the recreational industry completely. For a long time, this was how the cannabis industry operated — through collective gardens and permissions from doctors granting access to medical marijuana. If this were to happen, things would look a lot like they did a decade ago.
3. States with current laws are left alone, but new states are targeted
Under scenario three, the Trump administration would clamp down on any new legalization legislation, but grandfather in existing laws. If this were to happen, the states that currently allow for recreational use — the entire West Coast, and a few others — would be the only places where recreational users could get away with it. This doesn’t seem all that likely either, as it would effectively see the federal government allowing lawbreaking in certain places but not others.
It would, however, allow Trump’s team to toe the line of respecting state’s rights. Although, they would simultaneously not be respecting those who wish to push through new legislation.
4. Nothing changes
If Trump decides to do nothing at all regarding marijuana, then the status quo would remain untouched. As a result, the industry would continue to grow and develop as it has been. This is more or less the approach Obama’s administration took — by letting the states sort it out for themselves. There’s a good chance we might see this happen, as Trump may not want to rattle Republicans with a big show of federal force and also respect the states’ ability to self-govern.
5. President Trump openly supports the industry
The final scenario laid out by the report is one in which President Trump comes out in full support of the cannabis industry. This seems highly unlikely, despite how Trump personally feels about cannabis. He now has to assume the role of politician and has to walk a fine line. Still, even if he does come out in support, he can’t unilaterally dismantle federal laws concerning marijuana. It would be a good sign for the industry, however, and pretty much guarantee that growth would continue unimpeded throughout Trump’s presidency.