Nowhere was this more apparent than downtown Oakland, California, the epicenter of election night’s cannabis enthusiasm. As supporters watched early returns come in, it was quickly apparent that Proposition 64, The Adult Use of Marijuana Act, would take victory against the forces of Kevin Sabet, CA Narcotics Officers, and growers who knew they wouldn’t be able to grow a good enough product for the regulated market.
People who had spent decades of their lives pushing for legal cannabis were thrown in a tailspin. Instead of celebrating their efforts and the work of their peers, eyes immediately returned to the big board after a quick round of high fives and cheers. Once home to Prop 64 updates and the results from the eight other marijuana initiatives from across the country, it was now solely fixed on Presidential results.
Many heroes of the burgeoning industry were present at Oakland’s New Parish. They included Troy Dayton of The Arcview Group, the DeAngelo brothers of Harborside, Jack Herer compatriot Aundre Speciale, and longtime California industry attorneys James Anthony and Henry Wykowski. They took turns on the mic rallying supporters throughout the evening, nevertheless things got a pinch more gloomy as the evening moved forward.
“Despite the tone of the election, we had one heck of a celebration. There is no doubt in my mind that we are on the right side of history,” said Victor Pinho, Director of Communications at event-sponsor Berkeley Patients Group.
Much of the anxiety faced by the cannabis industry Tuesday evening was from the mystery of it all. Usually when dealing with elected officials, you can fall back on their record to understand the most fundamental basics of their stance on any given issue. In Trump’s case we can only point to the record of his Vice Presidential pick Mike Pence, the exiting-Indiana governor presided over some of the most vicious cannabis laws out there. A person caught with any amount of cannabis in Indiana could face up to six months in jail.
Others point to Trump’s campaign trail promises as a glimmer of hope.
“President-Elect Trump has clearly and repeatedly pledged to respect state marijuana laws, and we fully expect him to follow through on those promises, not only because it is the right thing to do but also because these reforms are broadly supported by a growing majority of voters,” said Tom Angell, Chairman of Marijuana Majority. ”Reversing course and going against the tide of history would present huge political problems that the new administration does not need.”
Angell was quick to point to the night’s other success stories and the obviously major role California will play as a tipping point for legalization.
“This is the most important moment in the history of the marijuana legalization movement,” he said. “California is the sixth-largest economy in the world and is hugely culturally influential. Most importantly, this vote will dramatically accelerate the end of federal marijuana prohibition.
“With California’s huge vote and other results tonight, our movement is in perfect position to increase our already strong momentum. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have repeatedly pledged to respect state marijuana laws. And in an interview last week, President Obama said federal marijuana prohibition would be ‘untenable’ if California legalized marijuana. He was right, and it’s time for Congress to get to work passing legislation to get the DEA out of the way of full and effective implementation of these state laws.”
Instead, back in California, the leaders of the now largest legal cannabis economy in the world shared Angell’s sentiments on Trump’s promises.
“Donald Trump on multiple occasions has said he respects a state’s right to set its own cannabis policies, it’s now our job to make sure we hold him to that,” said Sean Luse, President of the California Cannabis Industry Association.”Cannabis isn’t a partisan issue, the movement won eight out of nine states last night and we now have eight states plus the District of Columbia with adult-use cannabis laws on the books. The next administration must respect the will of the people.”
The industry’s largest and oldest investment arm believes the mandate of the voters will hold up for cannabis.
“We have every indication that Trump will respect state level marijuana laws. Also, it’s quite clear that cannabis is just about the only thing Americans seem to agree on right now,” said Troy Dayton, CEO of The Arcview Group. “Of course, we have no idea how Trump will actually govern on any issue. So, there’s that.”
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