Licensed cannabis retailers in San Diego expressed praise Friday for a decision by President Trump to back away from plans by the Justice Department to crack down on the sale of recreational marijuana.
Trump over-ruled Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said in January that federal prosecutors would be free to raid and prosecute retailers in states where cannabis is legal.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Trump reversed Sessions’ position at the request of Republican Sen. Corey Gardner of Colorado, who represents a state that approved recreational marijuana sales in 2014.
So-called “adult use” marijuana went on sale in California early this year, and retailers have reported brisk business. But Sessions’ remarks caused lots of anxiety and may have impacted investment in legal cannabis.
“I’m a big fan of wait-and-see what happens, but this is amazing news,” said Will Senn, co-founder of Urbn Leaf, which operates two licensed marijuana stores in San Diego and will soon open a third.
“I don’t think this will have much impact on retail sales. But it could help lead to more financial investment in the cannabis industry.”
Senn is vice president of Floris Fund, a private equity fund that is trying to raise $40 million to invest in the cannabis industry. He said the fund has raised close to half that figure.
“Today’s news will help our industry across the board, with everything from banking to investments to greater public acceptance,” said Lincoln Fish, chief executive of Outco, a cultivator and wholesaler near El Cajon that provides stores with recreational and medical marijuana.
“This has always been a states’ rights issue and we are pleased that this administration has finally recognized that right.”
Zach Lazarus, co-founder of A Green Alternative, a licensed retailer in Otay Mesa, said, “It would be unwise for Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions to try to shut down lawful dispensaries. It’s legal. People want it.
“Our growth is going through the roof, we’re employing more people, and we’re paying our taxes.”