Mr. President, back off our weed — profits are high
© Getty Images

July 1 marked the premiere of legal cannabis for adult use in Nevada. In just four days, over $3 million in sales was generated. The demand was so high that the dispensaries ran out of weed, forcing the Republican governor to endorse emergency measures that would help put more pot on the shelves for the eager masses.

One thing is clear from the situation in Nevada — there is a staggering demand for weed by Americans, and it is being grossly underestimated. In 2016 alone there was an unprecedented 30 percent increase in sales across the continent, resulting in about $7 billion in sales throughout the U.S. and Canada. That doesn’t include the massive amount of money being made on the black market — over $46 billion.

ADVERTISEMENT
With such a tremendous demand, there is enormous potential for exponential new job growth and significant tax revenue, once cannabis is legalized nationwide.

 

Colorado’s public education system has received more than $65 million in funding over the last two years — all thanks to marijuana. Nevada is expected to pull in $30 million in revenue by the end of the year; 15 percent of that will be going directly to the state’s education budget.

About 75 percent of startup canna-businesses break even within one year, despite the immense challenges and obstacles cannabis companies face every day. Since it is proving to be such an incredibly profitable industry, investments are pouring in, thus creating significant American employment opportunities as well.

The legal marijuana industry employed over 100,000 Americans as of July 2016, and that number has surely risen in the year since. A New Frontier Data report projects that the cannabis industry will create more than a quarter-million jobs in the U.S. by 2020.

All of this growth, prosperity and opportunity could be halted by the new White House administration’s purported agenda. Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat House passes concealed carry gun bill Rosenstein to testify before House Judiciary Committee next week MORE is staunchly opposed to legalized cannabis, calling it a “real danger” and saying “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

He even once said he thought the Ku Klux Klan “were OK until I found out they smoke pot.” This narrow-minded, uneducated and backward approach to policy could be devastating to this developing industry, and contrary to the will of a majority of the population.

President Trump continues to send mixed messages about his stance on marijuana. During his campaign, he pledged to leave regulation up to the states. But as Trump has proven many times over, he rarely sticks to any particular position, and seems to lack the vision, insight or even interest to educate himself on policy (though that doesn’t stop him from tweeting about it).

The uncertainty on where the administration stands is, understandably, making many people in the industry uneasy. Nearly 75 percent of publicly traded companies related to cannabis considered Trump’s election a risk factor for their businesses.

Candidate Trump claimed that he would make America great again, through the creation of new jobs. If President Trump truly wants to follow through on his lofty campaign promises, he would be wise to allow the cannabis industry to continue to grow and flourish.

If the Trump administration does the opposite — cracking down on marijuana businesses and preventing the forward movement of a burgeoning and highly profitable industry — we will see significant job loss, and the evaporation of newfound and much needed tax revenue. Even more importantly, almost 2.5 million medical marijuana patients could lose medicine vital to their quality of life, including veterans with PTSD, cancer patients and epileptic children. School districts that have been relying on the tax revenue from pot would face massive budget cuts.

With so many lives and so much revenue at stake, we must educate the Trump administration to assure it leaves the cannabis industry alone, and allow it to flourish, free of reactionary ideology and just plain ignorance.

Arnaud Dumas de Rauly is the chief strategy officer of The Blinc Group, an incubator for brands specializing in vaporizer and cannabis consumption technologies. Dumas de Rauly is an expert and advocate for the Vaping industry, the former president of the French Vapor Trade Association, and the current treasurer for the Vapor Technology Association.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.