DENVER -- The country’s top law enforcement official sent shock waves throughout the commercial marijuana business in the U.S. on Thursday.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions canceled three Obama-era memos that essentially adopted a policy of noninterference with marijuana-friendly state laws, including Colorado.
Lewis Koski of Freedman and Koski is a legal marijuana policy consultant.
It’s unclear how the policy shift will specifically impact commercial weed in Colorado, but he doesn’t believe there will an tremendous impact right away.
There are significant numbers related to the pot industry in Colorado.
Marijuana is a billion-dollar business in Colorado. The state’s Department Of Revenue reports last year between January and October, marijuana sales reached $1,259,861,988.
But the booming industry could start to see cracks, Koski said. He said the shift in policy is creating anxiety in the market, specifically among investors.
“Today changes things in a lot of ways, they may be scared off by the notion that there’s going to be a federal crackdown on license businesses,” he said.
There are 34,459 people with licenses to work in the legal pot business in Colorado. In other words, potential employees.
Koski said there’s no question a serious crack down could mean job loss for thousands.
The marijuana industry has generated $617 million in the Centennial state since 2014 when it was legalized.
The first $40 million collected each year goes to building and renovating deteriorating public schools.
The rest then goes to fund a wide range of programs, including substance abuse programs, recruiting new police officers and affordable housing.
One ounce in weed can be legally possessed by Coloradans.
Koski points out the numbers show there is a clear demand for marijuana.
If the federal government goes after licensed businesses in Colorado, those old enough to legally possess pot could turn to the black market to purchase their bud.
“So when you think about who is harmed the most by a shift in policy at the federal level, it’s public safety,” Koski said.