Trump’s Justice Department may crack down on thriving pot industry, but is it too big to jail?
Marijuana mogul Seibo Shen is accustomed to fighting – but it is usually on the Jiu Jitsu mat, where the undefeated 40-year old prefers to engage completely baked.
“You know that movie ‘Drunken Master’?” he said, nodding to the cult film about a martial arts master whose secret weapon is inebriation. “It’s like that. I like to consume so much before a competition that they are literally walking me onto the mat.”
Shen is among the swiftly growing ranks of marijuana entrepreneurs who could be headed for a showdown with the federal government.
The election of Trump has shocked the marijuana industry into a state of high alert at a time it had planned to be gliding into unbridled growth. Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, is a longtime field lieutenant in the war on drugs with unabashed hostility toward pot. It was only 10 months ago that Sessions was scolding from the dais of a Senate hearing room that the drug is dangerous, not funny and that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
Now he is poised to set the direction on national drug enforcement policy at the same time that eight states, including California, have legalized recreational use of the drug. Some 60 million Americans are living in states where voters have opted to allow any adult to be able to purchase marijuana.
Business leaders like Shen are betting the rapid maturity of the cannabis industry has made it too big to jail. Even before new laws took effect permitting the recreational use of pot in the massive markets of California and Massachusetts, the legitimate pot business had dwarfed its 2011 size, when the Drug Enforcement Administration was still aggressively raiding medical marijuana vendors operating legally under state laws. Since then, President Obama’s Justice Department decreed that states should have freedom to pursue their own policies, and the legalization train seemed to have left the station.
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