Cannabis industry professionals often have a fear of maintaining lawful operations. After all, the legalization of recreational sales of adult-use marijuana is a relatively new change – Colorado saw legalization of recreational marijuana sales and use come into effect under Colorado Amendment 64 in early 2014. However, we all know that this amendment flies in the face of federal law.

Colorado Recreational Cannabis Law Versus Federal Law

What the DOJ and DEA Might Do

The Department of Justice – or DOJ – is the federal authority on law enforcement, and it administers the Drug Enforcement Administration – or DEA. In 2015, the Department of Justice allocated just over two billion dollars to the DEA.

Now, the DOJ and DEA do have the power to act against recreational cannabis industry businesses. The DEA could raid and shut down recreational cannabis businesses under federal law. In addition, the DOJ could threaten public officials to keep them from handing out licenses; they could have U.S. attorneys mail cease-and-desist documents to cannabis businesses; or they can take other actions to restrict cannabis industry operations. There is a chance that the DOJ and DEA will act to hinder recreational marijuana sales which are otherwise legal under local state law. However, according to Jodi Avergun, the DOJ and DEA likely won’t take action.

Why They Likely Won’t Act Against Businesses

Jodi Avergun is quite the expert on federal drug law and enforcement of that field of law. She is an ex-federal prosecutor and she served as the chief of staff for the DEA from 2005 to 2006. In a recent interview with Marijuana Business Daily, Avergun shed some light on the current stance of the DEA and DOJ. In short, Avergun

What About Trump?

Avergun puts it well; under the Trump presidency, Avergun projects that “not a lot is going to change” as far as federal enforcement action is concerned. She also notes, however, that the medical marijuana industry is far safer from federal action than the recreational cannabis industry. In spite of that truth, Avergun is optimistic about both the medical and recreational cannabis industries.

Avergun continues: “The federal government cannot undo state law. The threat comes from federal enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act, and that is very much a matter of resources.” Resources. That’s a crucial consideration. The DEA is tasked with enforcing laws that cover all drugs, not just marijuana. So, while cannabis is becoming more and more decriminalized and legalized, DEA resources are shifting to fight fully illegal substances. Unless that funding changes significantly, it’s likely that the DEA will stick to priorities like drug trafficking and control of opiates.


Investing & The Importance of Compliance

In the same article mentioned above, Marijuana Business Daily poses an important question for Jodi Avergun: “[Should investors] hold off on investing in any recreational marijuana businesses until there’s more clarity from the Trump administration on how it intends to approach cannabis policy?” It’s an understandable question; the change in presidency can easily spook cannabis industry investors. Avergun responds that “It would depend tremendously on the level of compliance by the business being invested in, but it’s a risk no matter what.” That’s fair advice. Investing is always a risk, and investing in a recently legalized market is inherently more risky. That said, since the recreational marijuana industry has only shown growth in Colorado and other states, the higher risk may be met with higher reward.



So, compliance counts when attracting investors. That’s why we advocate for compliance education here at Evolutionz. Take a moment to sign up for our compliance notification newsletter, and learn about our compliance assessment services. Partner with Evolutionz to ensure that your business is compliant, and all operations are above board.