If U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions imposes a crack down on legal marijuana, industry insiders say it would have a devastating impact on Colorado’s economy.
Earlier last week, Kristi Kelly, Executive Director of the Marijuana Industry Group, told The Denver Channel that, “the dismantling of cannabis in Colorado would cause a recession.”
If this were to happen, it would cause the state’s unemployment rate to skyrocket, pull millions of tax revenue out of schools and a variety of state projects, not to mention castrate the tourism trade.
“The economics of this are huge in Colorado,” Kelly said. “There is a billion-dollar economic impact in Colorado, which is directly attributable or affiliated with the cannabis industry, so that equates to 20,000 people licensed in trade.”
According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the sale of legal marijuana generated $1.3 billion in 2016. In addition, the cannabis industry has also given way to the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs and increased the prosperity of many other businesses.
But newly confirmed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has so far refused to say whether he plans to allow the legal cannabis market to continue. A report emerged last week, suggesting that White House press secretary Sean Spicer said it was “unlikely” that the Trump Administration would force legal marijuana businesses to close their doors, but those reports have since been discredited as fake news.
Still, with some analysts predicting the cannabis industry will be worth $50 billion within the next decade, some members of the legal pot scene believe they are simply producing too much revenue to be stopped.
Tony Alfiere, president of Colorado cannabis extract company Quigley’s, told MERRY JANE last week that “once this media hysteria dies down and [Sessions] is allowed to do his job we will see the cannabis industry is here to stay.”
But policy experts, like John Hudak of the Brookings Institution, argue the cannabis industry “is small by any metric of American capitalism” and in no way untouchable.
“You are a speck of dust in a clutter of dirt of American capitalism," he said. "The president is planning to repeal the Affordable Care Act. If you think that hospitals, doctors and the pharmaceutical industry are small enough to be shaken down by the president, but the cannabis industry is too big to face the same challenge from the president, once again, you’re insane.”