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STEVE ELLIOTT

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James Lee, a Trump voter and the owner of a consulting firm that has been working for two years to sponsor a “The World’s First Cannabis Business Cruise” from Miami to Jamaica, says the latest administration move on marijuana is devastating his business, and could drive him out of the business entirely.

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James Lee, Skill Stix:
“In the business, people are freaking out. … [P]eople are running scared, and deals are falling apart”
[Yahoo Finance]

“In the business, people are freaking out,” Lee, 35, said. “A lot of us were huge Trump supporters, and still are. But people are running scared, and deals are falling apart. That comment [about greater enforcement] is in direct contradiction to the America First principle he’s talking about.”

“If Trump begins to enforce the federal ban on marijuana … it’s likely to choke the whole industry—with Lee one of the first likely victims,” reports Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance.

The panic began on February 23, when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer alarmed the industry by saying the Trump Administration might practice “greater enforcement” of federal marijuana laws. Cannabis is still a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level. Despite this, eight states and D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana.

Industry unease hit a whole new level on Monday, when Atty. Gen. Sessions practically guaranteed a federal crackdown on the marijuana industry.

Lee’s planned cruise is intended to be a networking event for companies looking to profit on legal cannabis. For two years, Lee’s consulting firm, Chesapeake, Virginia-based Skill Stix Dabvertising, has been planning a “cannabis cruise” from Miami to Jamaica, providing a B2B networking event for legal marijuana companies.

No cannabis would be allowed on the ship, either at sea or in port, on Lee’s planned cruise. But marijuana would be available for purchase when passengers disembark in Jamaica. Activities on the $1,500 cruise were to include seminars on the “seed to sale” cannabis industry: financing, branding, packaging, and the rest of it.

Most cruise lines nixed the idea, but one, Norwegian, was interested. Lee finally negotiated a deal, backed by private investors, that would require an upfront payment of $7.1 million, due in early March. He’s now unsure whether to make that payment, and bear the risk of a Trump crackdown on the industry, or pull the plug on two years’ work.

“I’m terrified that if I put this money up, what happens when the DEA comes out and starts raiding shops and everybody runs from the entire industry,” Lee said. Federal law could even give the government the right to claim a bong that’s up for auction as a door prize on the cruise as drug paraphernalia. That would give the feds the right to seize the entire ship. Norwegian, for its part, is starting to freak out, reiterating its “zero tolerance” policy for weed on the ship, and tightening the rules.

But apparently, the federal laws against marijuana aren’t among the “job-killing regulations” Trump wants to repeal. Trump said in 2015 that he thinks the cannabis issue should be handled on a state-by-state basis, giving hope to the naive within the industry that he might follow Obama’s hands-off approach.

But for those who were paying attention to his appointment of pot-hating Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, the latest move is not a shock.

“I won’t commit to never enforcing federal law,” Sessions said in his confirmation hearing. Other than that, he was evasive in his answers about exactly what the Trump Administration would do about legal weed.

But Sessions seems to have swayed Trump over to his way of thinking when it comes to recreational pot. So while “states’ rights” are apparently the rule when it comes to transgender bathroom use, legal marijuana gets no similar consideration.

 

 

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