By Michael Bachara
Former US Deputy Attorney General and author of the Cole Memos, James Cole was recently a guest on Cannabis Economy Podcast with Seth Adler. In the conversation, Cole shared what the rescission of the Cole Memos and the Ogden Memo means for legal cannabis and the questions that the action raises.
“The FinCen memo may kind of die of its own weight because it is based on compliance with the Cole Memo. So there’s a question about whether the FinCen memo, which has not been withdrawn still exists,” said Cole. The third Cole Memo was released in concert with the FinCen memo, which outlines guidance on banking expectations for state legal cannabis.
“Why do you really care about whether there is a marijuana industry?” asks Cole, “and it’s because if you’re going to make it legal, you want to make sure that there’s a legal source for it and you want to get the cartels out of it and the gangs out of it. And you can only do that by allowing a space for these legal industries to function in somewhat of a safe space, somewhat of a kind of a well informed space.”
Without the clarity, legal cannabis operators must deal with the prospect of raids and law suits, the costs associated with those raids and lawsuits and the effect that those raids and law suits will have on legal cannabis businesses. Adler noted, “If state legal cannabis operations with tested cannabis are disrupted and legal doors must be closed to deal with the federal authorities, that opens black market doors to supply untested product.”
The Rohrabacher Blumenaur Amendment dictates legal medical cannabis, now that the memos have been rescinded. The issue is up to US attorneys in states where adult-use cannabis initiatives have been passed to decide its legality. Central California and Northern California have newly appointed attorneys which have been appointed by AG Sessions.
In the interview, Cole and Adler discuss the thought process behind creating each of the three memos, his first in 2011, the second in 2013 and the final memo released in concert with FinCen guidance in 2014.
Photo Source: MJ News Network