Marijuana Industry's Response to Jeff Sessions Resignation
Cannabis entrepreneur Matt Shifrin responds to Sessions demotion in a quick Q&A
Marijuana defenders and adjacent businesses rejoiced after President Donald Trump ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions last Wednesday. Many see his walkout as the symbolic fall of remaining roadblocks to widespread legalization.
Sessions' resignation prompted sharp bumps for investors – in the hour following his resignation, the Nasdaq's Alternative Harvest Marijuana ETF rose 5.6 percent, 7 percent to close the day's trading. Meanwhile, Tilray – a medical cannabis company out of Canada – saw a 30 percent single-day boost.
Sessions' resistance to marijuana was one of his strongest political positions over the course of his tenure, calling the substance a "gateway drug" for further abuse. The distinction between state- and federal-marijuana legislation has caused challenges for the cannabis industry, from banking to logistics and more.
Mathew Shifrin, CEO and founder of Pioneer Interests, a cannabis and hemp operations and investment firm based in Denver, responded to Sessions demotion in a quick conversation with ColoradoBiz:
ON THE RESIGNATION: "As a fierce advocate of cannabis, we here at Pioneer and our subsidiaries, will not miss Jeff Sessions. The legal cannabis industry in the U.S. has created tens of thousands of jobs, has contributed billions of dollars in economic contribution and has provided massive tax revenues for states that have pursued some form of legalization. Jeff Sessions resigning will hopefully provide some relief to the State Attorney's General and provide a more collaborative working environment for all those working in and around the industry."
ON THE OUTLOOK FOR LEGALIZATION: "Green Rush. It is likely that in our lifetimes we will see an approximate $50 billion [annual] industry come out of the closet into the light and in a few years double to be bigger than wine and spirits. With now 52 percent of the country having approved cannabis in their states,
We are now starting to see the first wave of larger non-cannabis corporations enter the space, private investment has picked up substantially, and we are entering the beginning of a massive land war and consolidation game. That said, America has to act fast to instill federal legislation reforms if it is to compete with countries like Canada, Germany and Mexico for international export markets, which are estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year."
ON THE UPCOMING 116th U.S. CONGRESS: "It's hard for people to imagine, but . in the next nine to 12 months, cannabis will be, in many ways, treated the same way as alcohol from a regulatory perspective. Issues around banking, legality as a business operator, etc., will be relegated to the history books. The biggest road block to cannabis legalization in the last congress was Pete Sessions – no relation to Jeff [Sessions] – who sat on the rules committee and prevented any bills from making it onto the house floor. With the house turning over to the Dems and with Pete Sessions having lost his seat to Colin Allred (D), it is a statistical certainty that we will see federal cannabis reform legislation in the first year of this new congress.