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Opportunities & Challenges Cannabis Entrepreneurs Face In 2019

Marijuana professionals will have an abundance of business opportunities, questions and challenges on their radar in 2019. What follows is an overview of nine of the most important.

1. Is there potential for a federal legislative breakthrough?

What is the probability of federal marijuana reform in 2019 given Washington DC gridlock and the likely focus on immigration, infrastructure and investigations related to President Donald Trump?

Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, recently was rebuffed in his long-shot attempt to attach the States Act to the successful criminal justice reform bill.

Some industry insiders still believe the States Act, which would allow states to determine their own approach to MJ legalization and resolve federal banking and tax issues that cannabis firms face, has a shot because of its bipartisan backing by 10 Senate cosponsors and the flip of the House to the Democrats in 2018.

Others believe the cannabis industry, given continued resistance to broad legalization by Senate Majority Leader and hemp champion Mitch McConnell, would be better off to focus on less-controversial reform – say medical marijuana.

2. Next attorney general

It’s tough to predict U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr’s approach toward the cannabis industry.

Barr took a hard-line stance against drug offenders in the 1990s, when he held the same position for late President George H.W. Bush.

In a recent op-ed, Barr and two other former attorneys general praised ex-AG Jeff Sessions’ decision during his tenure to return to tough policies against drug dealers.

But the recently enacted criminal justice reform eases sentencing rules for drug offenders.

The question of how Barr now views the marijuana industry could come up at his Senate confirmation hearings.

Even if he still holds a war-on-drugs mentality, it remains to be seen if Barr can he be as anti-cannabis as Sessions, in the wake of criminal justice reform and at a time when special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is likely to take center stage.

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Published: January 02, 2019

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