In the last few years, attitudes to marijuana in the U.S. appeared to be easing.
And in many ways, they have. Four states have fully legalized recreational cannabis, and four more voted to follow them in November.
But the same election that doubled the number of pot-tolerant states brought Donald Trump into the White House. With him come people in key cabinet positions who loathe marijuana and have at least some power to act on it. Marijuana is still illegal under U.S. federal law.
The likely consequence: an end to the easygoing attitude that the Obama administration brought to states that chose legalization.
Canada, on the other hand, will soon be the only industrialized country where marijuana is fully legal. The result, a Canadian pot entrepreneur argues, is an opening for Canada to become a global centre of medical cannabis research.
“It creates a window of opportunity for us to do research without competition from America,” says Bruce Linton, CEO of Canopy Growth, a large medical marijuana growing facility in Smiths Falls, Ont.
U.S. companies that want to raise capital to develop cannabis products — to do serious research on cannabis-based pharmaceuticals, for example — have trouble raising capital because of their dodgy legal status, he explains:
“If there is a probability (of arrest), it costs you more to get capital versus if there’s none,” Linton says. “It can’t operate where there is a whole bunch of uncertainty about whether it’s lawful.”
In June, a medical cannabis processing plant operating openly in Santa Rosa, Calif. was closed by police, who confiscated millions of dollars worth of machinery and arrested the owner. It has since reopened, though police still have the seized equipment.