As things stand right now, the United States attorney general is Matthew Whittaker. He was appointed by President Trump after Jeff Sessions was asked to resign from his position last November. Barr was the chief of staff for Sessions at the time of his resignation, and is going to be used as a temporary replacement until a permanent candidate is selected. President Trump has made it relatively clear that his number one choice for that new position now is William Barr. He is very popular among republicans and doesn’t technically need a single vote from the democratic isle of the Senate to be confirmed, due to their majority. The marijuana industry is watching closely because it’s highly likely he will be the lead law enforcement officer in our country, and have a large impact on how federal marijuana laws will be enforced.
With a track record of not being very green friendly, its logical that he would take a very traditional approach to cannabis and try to enforce federal law on states that have successful and well established regulatory systems in place. Last week while testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr claimed he would not use any federal resources to interfere with states that have already decided to regulate cannabis. As long as businesses are complying with their individual state laws, he claims there will not be any interference. During Jeff Session’s time as attorney general, there was a ton of fear spreading throughout the industry because of his outdated approach to cannabis. Sessions went as far as rescinding the guidelines that were established by President Obama and designed to provide protections to businesses operating legally under state law. William Barr is not claiming to be pro cannabis in any sense though. He has admitted that personally he believes the drug should have remained in its illegal status. His stance is pretty confusing because he claims that Congress should figure out a way to stop state initiatives because he views them as “a backdoor nullification to federal laws”.
This guy does not seem like the ideal candidate by any means for those who are involved with cannabis. It definitely seems to be improvement from the direction the administration was heading with Sessions in charge. While that is not saying much, it seems that the momentum from cannabis reform has reached the point of no return despite his personal view of the plant. It isn’t fair to expect a pro cannabis view from anyone that Trump would want in charge of our country’s law enforcement. The Senate is expected to make their vote next month on whether or not to confirm him. It is predicted with a high degree of confidence that he will be confirmed as attorney general. I’m sure that this stance on states right’s will help insure he gains even more votes from the Senate.
Recreational cannabis has been legal for adults in Washington for nearly 6 years now. Sales of cannabis products including an enormous array of edible options began two years later, and always included various types of gummies and candies. Products containing cannabinoids had been previously required to be clearly marked as psychoactive in order to help avoid unintentional consumption. Rather unexpectedly, the Liquor and Cannabis Board has decided that previous steps do not go far enough to protect our children. The argument is that the candies and gummies are far too appealing for kids and assumes that parents and others will not be responsible enough to keep it out of the access of children. The new guidlines that the board established will pretty much disallow all candy-type edibles in stores. Banned products will include gummy type products, hard candy, tarts, fruit chews, colorful chocolates, and jellies. This will severely limit the available products available to adults and result in much more plain offerings. The state claims that edible products like baked goods, chocolate, and mints will still be produced and sold as long as they are not colored, molded into shapes, or covered in frosting. Regulations like these are simply unnecessary and will do nothing but hurt edible producers across Washington.
The only positive news that comes from these new regulations is the fact that they won’t take effect until next year. Dispensaries may sell all inventory that met previous regulations through April 3, 2019, or until it is sold. Candies have always been an extremely popular choice as an edible for cannabis consumers. Outside of that, producers that have purchased lots of their preparation and packaging equipment for candies that were once allowed. All of this equipment was purchased with the individual business owner’s own personal savings because loans cannot be giving to legal cannabis producers/stores. On top of all the other endless regulations and tax rates that they must comply with, these new guidelines are going to severely cut into many firm’s profitabilities. The barriers to entry in the cannabis industry added to the large number of risks that come with unpredictable new legislation keeps many potential entrepreneurs from getting involved in the growing industry. This move is not only scaring edible producers in Washington but across the nation. Many are afraid this will set a precedent and have a major effect on how edible cannabis is produced nationwide.
According to 502 Data, in 2017 there were $927 million in retail marijuana sales. The Liquor and Cannabis Board in Washington claims that edible marijuana accounts for roughly 9% of these sales or $83.4 million/yr. While the state is not going to disallow all cannabis edibles, a large percent of the edible market will disappear and form into a more basic unappealing array of products. Marketing companies use colors and unique shapes to create a personal identity and brand that consumers can recognize. It shouldn’t be any different in the cannabis industry. These products are being marketed to adults, not children. No sensible person wants a child to have access to cannabis, so regulators shouldn’t be playing the same “protect our kids” card they used to run anti-legalization ads. They’re simply adding unneeded regulations that limit options for consumers, and make it hard for companies to maximize profitability.