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Opinion: MJBA founder Dave Rheins releases open letter to Jeff Sessions

From Dave Rheins, founder of the Marijuana Business Association: (for the original letter, click here.)

Dear Attorney General Sessions:

Speaking on behalf of the tens of thousands of legal cannabis businesses, and the more than 150,000 workers employed in the legal cannabis industry, we ask you to rethink your decision to rescind the Cole Memorandum.  Cannabis Prohibition has been a costly-disaster — for the country at large, and to millions of Americans who have been arrested, imprisoned, lost jobs and scholarships, all for the use or possession of small amounts of a plant.  We ask that you end this failed policy, and join the majority of Americans on both sides of the political spectrum who recognize is time to move beyond the failed policies of America’s War on Drugs.

In the five years since the voters of Colorado and Washington voted in adult-use cannabis, we have witnessed the birth of a responsible, professional industry that serves millions of adult customers in a safe and compliant manner.  Working effectively with state regulators, the legal cannabis industry is growing responsibly, and building the foundations of a scalable, profitable industry — one that is already generating hundreds of millions in new state tax revenues, creating jobs and economic vitality in once-depressed communities.

The legal cannabis industry is led by socially-responsible business leaders who share your concern about the opioid crisis.  Under legalization, cannabis products are carefully inspected, tested, packaged and sold under strict State supervision.   Licensed retail establishments are required to maintain rigorous security and compliance technology, and customers are carded, oftentimes twice, to ensure no illegal sales to minors happens.

Our legal industry — which represents the fastest growing segment of our economy — operates at a severe disadvantages.  As a result of being considered a Schedule 1 drug, legal state businesses are unable to secure very poor credit payday loans or commercial credit, are banned from working with many banks, and pay penalizing fees, surcharges and taxes.

In the past five years, the legal cannabis industry has been encouraged by the support of enlightened politicians from both parties who seek to move beyond prohibition. We thank folks like Congressman Earl BlumenauerCongressman Dana Rohrabacher and members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, along with Senator Cory Booker, Senator Rand Paul and backers of the CARERS Act for their fine work.  It is a start, but there is much work to be done to unravel the hairball of failed policy that 80 years of prohibition has woven.

Attorney General Sessions, please rethink your decision and join us –  we seek a partner in the Federal Government, not an adversary, as together we work to redefine a post-prohibition America.

Respectfully submitted,

David Rheinsl

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