Since Donald Trump’s election and the subsequent nomination of avowed weed-hater Jeff Sessions as the country’s next attorney general, America’s marijuana industry can be found somewhere along the stages of grief. There’s anger, denial, depression and a little bit of acceptance.
But in Canada, there’s excitement.
Sessions unleashing the DEA on America’s nascent marijuana industry, reducing its multiple billions of dollars of economic potential to a smelly ash heap of broken dreams, wouldn’t be a tragedy north of the border. It would be an incredible (and incredibly lucrative) opportunity.
Yes, adult-use marijuana is sold or will be sold in about a year in states where 65 million people live. Yes, marijuana is already worth more than $20 billion in California alone, according to a recent estimate, easily worth more—much, much more—than any other agricultural commodity in the country’s most important agricultural state.
But as Canada’s Global News reminds us, all this is thanks to the munificence of the federal government, as in Barack Obama’s federal government.
Under Obama, the feds have mostly kept their hands off of America’s marijuana industry. Weed in America sits wobbly on a three-legged stool, propped up by a non-binding DOJ memo, a congressional budget move that de-funds the DOJ only as long as it keeps being renewed, and—actually, that’s it. On this stool, there’s a leg missing.
Under Trump—well, nobody knows what Trump is going to do about cannabis. And if Team Trump’s “plan” for healthcare is any indication, Trump doesn’t know what he’s going to do, either.
The markets love uncertainty like this. As Trump once observed, the subprime meltdown was great for capitalists like him because they made money. Likewise, if Pepe memes and insane early-morning tweets lead to America’s marijuana industry getting a big old trim-back, people will make money. They’re just mostly in Canada, where the federal government already licensed medical marijuana companies, and where the federal government is planning to legalize recreational marijuana sometime this year.
They are people like Bruce Linton, the CEO of Ontario-based Canopy Growth. Canopy, as we’ve reported before, has already made oodles of money thanks to America. Stock in his company quadrupled in value from its position earlier in the summer after California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine passed legalization initiatives, and Florida led a bevy of red states approving medical marijuana. If Trump or Sessions decide to kill off America’s marijuana industry, entrepreneurs, experts and capital will flow north.
If that happens, Linton sees Canada as the new global home for marijuana research, development—and, anything and everything else that’s remotely marijuana-related, he told Global News.
“It [a Trump war on weed] creates a window of opportunity for us to do research without competition from America,” Linton told the news site.
Plenty of American marijuana workers and entrepreneurs aren’t waiting around to see what Trump is going to do. They recognize, as we have, that Canada is the only country on the planet to offer federal licenses to marijuana companies. That’s certainty no company in America can claim—and won’t be able to claim, not until Congress or the DEA changes the Controlled Substances Act. Since that didn’t happen under Obama, there’s not much hope it will happen under Trump.
So people are already fleeing, as immigration lawyer Betsy Kane told the website.
“There are some coming from California, from Maine,” she said.
And what’s now a trickle will become a flood if the Trump administration decides that it’s time for a crackdown on potheads as well as Muslims, immigrants and whomever else is annoying him at the moment.
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