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OR: Marijuana Businesses Optimistic For Trump

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Katelyn Baker

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Fear that a new, Republican occupant of the White House next year will crack down on legal marijuana in Oregon is misplaced, said some in the business Wednesday.

Instead, they see in Donald Trump, the president-elect, an advocate for states' rights and small business.

"I think we have a better shot with Trump," said Noah Stokes, owner of a Beaverton firm, CannaGuard, that provides security and armored transport for marijuana businesses. "Good luck trying to justify taking away tax revenue and shutting down good, honest, hard-working American businesses."

The best hope for Oregon marijuana business may be a Trump administration that does little or nothing, said Aviv Hadar, co-founder of Oregrown, a marijuana producer and retailer based in Bend.

"Leave us alone, really," Hadar said Wednesday. "Let the market do what it's going to do."

The president-elect's business background is one reason for optimism, Hadar said. He's ready to give Trump, a New York-based real estate developer and reality TV star, the benefit of the doubt.

"It's exciting to have someone who understands small businesses, job growth and the benefits of a fruitful economy," Hadar said.

Trump could stay the course and allow states where marijuana is legal, either for medical uses or for adult recreation, to operate according to the so-called Cole Memo, said John Kagia, executive vice president of industry analytics for New Frontier Data, a Washington, D.C.-based marijuana industry analysis firm.

The memo, a set of guidelines from the U.S. Department of Justice, allows marijuana businesses to operate as long as they play by the rules, including taking steps to keep marijuana away from children and organized crime and from crossing state lines.

"We would expect these types of efforts to continue under the umbrella of a Trump administration," Kagia said. If so, "a lot more states would have incentive to ensure their local markets are able to operate unrestricted and unmolested" by the federal government.

Many in the marijuana business hope the federal government one day lifts restrictions on banking that limit cannabis transactions to cash. The Drug Enforcement Agency also continues to define marijuana as a Schedule I drug, one with no medical value, which restricts research into claims of its beneficial effects.

"This issue does cut across party lines," Kagia said. "The public is getting to the point where on the medical side they're asking, 'Why should my grandmother be arrested for consuming cannabis for her arthritis?'"

He said Trump reportedly favors allowing states to manage their own affairs, and is open to further legalization and research in medicinal cannabis. Trump's a "little less enthusiastic," Kagia said, about adult recreational use.

"One of the concerns we hear is a President Trump would select someone like (New Jersey Gov.) Chris Christie" to lead the U.S. Department of Justice, Kagia said, "or someone who shares his views."

The view on legal marijuana has narrowed from both sides of the political aisle, he said. States like North Dakota, Arkansas and Florida, which Trump carried, also passed medical marijuana initiatives. A broad public consensus suggests "politicians are going to have to work very hard to justify why they're investing time and treasure in fighting cannabis," Kagia said.

Adding weight to that argument: Three states, including California, voted Wednesday to legalize adult possession and use of marijuana. The vote in a fourth, Maine, was still too close to call Wednesday.

"There's no going back," said Donald Morse, chairman of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council, a business advocacy group. "A lot of times we get more help from Republicans because they tend to be libertarians. They feel that if this is what the people want, they want to facilitate that. I'm hopeful that Donald Trump will be the same."



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Full Article: Marijuana Businesses Optimistic For Trump
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