Knowing the Law is Key to Success in the Cannabis Industry

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To Keep it Legal, Keep it Ethical

Marijuana is enjoying an increase in popularity as states throughout the U.S. decriminalize and legalize its use and possession. Regardless of the fact that 57% of Americans now "think the use of marijuana should be legal," it is still against federal law and remains listed by the DEA as Schedule I, placing it among drugs considered the most dangerous and without any therapeutic value.

The legal cannabis industry is currently underpinned by a simple written statement from the former Obama Administration, known as the Cole Memo, which outlines the requirements to avoid federal actions -- such as keeping it out of the hands of children and organized crime.

However, recent statements from the Trump Administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions seem to disregard both popular opinion and the democratic process by which legalization has occurred across many states. These reversals have had an understandably chilling effect on the industry as a whole.

So how can you best navigate this uncertain environment? Here are a few tips:

  • Continue to operate in compliance with the Cole Memo
  • Ensure you have a thorough understanding of all state and local laws and regulations
  • Get to know your regulators
  • Participate in all available public hearings as laws and rules are developed & re-assessed in your community
  • Know which of your elected officials support legal cannabis, share your story with them, and support them with your vote
  • Find a credible legal expert who can guide you as local, state, and federal regulations change

To that end, Cannabis Institute instructor and attorney Nicole Li is an exceptional resource. Her Li Law Firm specializes in cannabis law and compliance, and she's dedicated to helping people become more comfortable and knowledgeable about cannabis law and professional ethics. Nicole also lends her expertise to highlight the racial inequities that have been exacerbated by prohibition-era laws.

"Our country's marijuana policy is not evidence-based, it is out of step with medical research, and it worsens social disparity through racist enforcement," Nicole states. "When US Attorney General Jeff Sessions says, 'Good people don't smoke marijuana,' he spreads stigma that reinforces those problems. I have the privilege to be an attorney with degrees in both medical ethics and philosophy to challenge those prejudices. I feel that it's a moral duty to do so."

In addition to her law practice, Nicole is the legal advisor for Seattle Central Cannabis Institute's Medical Marijuana Consultant Certificate Program, as well as the instructor for one of our online CEU classes, Law and Ethics for Medical Marijuana Consultants. If you're currently a Medical Marijuana Consultant, working in the cannabis industry in another capacity, or are simply interested in gaining more insight into the legal and ethical considerations of this developing industry, Nicole's 5-hour online course is an excellent resource and highly recommended -- especially in the context of these uncertain times.

Follow Trey Reckling:

Trey Reckling is the founder and operator of the Academy of Cannabis Science. He works in collaboration with Seattle Central College's Cannabis Institute to offer quality, science-based education to members of the burgeoning legal cannabis industry.