I would like to give you my thoughts on the recent announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

First and foremost, I want to reinforce my belief in and commitment to the cannabis industry and the work we are doing here at Phyto. We are undeterred by the recent news and more excited than ever about the future of the cannabis industry and our portfolio companies. We will continue to take advantage of, and benefit from, the incredible opportunity to invest in and be a part of Americas next great industry.

With that said, on January 4th, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an unelected government official, decided to rescind the longstanding Cole Memo guidelines which have been the governing rule since August 2013, and which continued the policy of the Ogden Memo which was in place since 2009. Both AG memos were a de facto shield from the federal government for legally operating and compliant cannabis businesses in states where laws allow.

Much of the response to last weeks surprise announcement has been pretty sensational and frankly wrongheaded. Most of the MSM news reports have exaggerated what the announcement means and how it will impact the cannabis industry and businesses that operate in the industry. The obvious reason that this has drawn such attention is that more than 70% of the country has a vested interest in legalized marijuana; including businesses, careers, finances, jobs, healthcare, and access to life saving medicine, and they strongly disagree with the actions he has taken.

On the surface it would seem to be the death knell for the industry. If the Feds were to unleash their power and resources on the cannabis industry it would destroy it, close down businesses, seize property and funds, arrest operators, layoff hundreds of thousands of workers, stop all investment into the industry, and maybe even worse make medical marijuana users criminals again! The real news is… NONE of this will happen.

Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsSince I began my cannabis career in 2013 there have been a few times when it seemed things were not going well and that cannabis legalization reform and acceptance was hitting a wall or even reversing direction. Last week was another one of those times and it came just 4 days after what is considered by many to be THE seminal moment for cannabis reform; the full legalization of cannabis in California, the most populous state and the 7th largest economy in the world, what happens in California spreads to the rest of the country. Then Sessions makes a decree and the kabash is put on it, I think not! That is not how our country or our democracy works. No doubt the timing of this announcement is suspect, but we will address that at another time.

Immediately following the surprise announcement, leadership across the country from both political parties, including numerous state Governors and Attorney Generals, have already made it clear that they will stand up for the rule of law, defend states rights and will protect legally operating businesses from ANY and ALL Federal government intervention or prosecution. In fact, not a single politician from either party was consulted on the decision and none have come out to support it publicly.

As a candidate in 2016, President Trump said he wouldn’t rescind the Cole Memo.

This lack of support, even by Marijuana opponents, strongly signals that nothing will change and holding to the Cole Memo as the guideline for going after cannabis businesses. A number of Senators and Congressman have also added their voices to support the industry and have openly stated their intention to push for federal law reforms regarding marijuana, including rescheduling or de-scheduling, removing it as controlled substance, and/or decriminalizing it completely.

So, now that Attorney General Sessions thinks differently and makes a decision to role back rules and guidelines that are working well and keeping strict rules and procedures in place, the world will change? Again I think not! Attorney General Jeff Sessions has used antiquated and disproved reefer madness stereotypes, along with all sorts of alternative facts and mis-information, to justify his decision. Sessions is imposing his beliefs and backwards thinking, in an effort to turn back the clocks. That’s in stark contrast to the beliefs, feelings and votes of 35 states, popular opinion with 70% of the country, some 250 million of us, supporting and demanding legal access to marijuana.

The good and real news is, NOTHING has changed and NOTHING will happen to legally operating cannabis businesses or consumers. And NOTHING will happen to our portfolio companies, except that their critical business solutions will become even more important and valuable to the licensed operators. Phyto is well positioned to take advantage as our investment philosophy, strategy and focus has always been to find companies to invest in that help licensed operators do business in a highly regulated, federally scrutinized industry. That has served us and our investors well and we continue to source opportunities that meet our informed and strict investment criteria.

2018 will be the best year yet for the cannabis industry, despite Jeff Sessions. Growth will continue unabated, investment capital will continue to flow in, business plans and projects will move forward, healthcare professionals will get more involved, patients and consumers will get more access along with real scientific research and information about the benefits of cannabis, other countries will continue to expand their cannabis economies, more fortune 500 companies will enter the industry, illegal cannabis activities will decline, and the society at large will continue to reap the benefits of a legally regulated cannabis industry worldwide.

Finally, many experts and business leaders believe the Attorney General’s actions will convince our politicians in Washington to change the laws and end the prohibition of cannabis and finally come to terms with reality that the War on Drugs has been lost!

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