Legal marijuana businesses brace for White House crackdown

Posted at 5:30 PM, Feb 24, 2017

After White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's remarks about a possible crackdown on recreational marijuana sales in states where it is legal, businesses are gearing up for a fight if it comes.

Spicer's remarks that "greater enforcement" could come from the Department of Justice came in response to an Arkansas reporter's question during Thursday's briefing.

That's despite a new poll showing seven in 10 Americans now support legalization, and 28 states have legalized marijuana in some form.

Colorado was the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana for recreational use and retail sales.

Last year Colorado saw $1.3 billion in legal sales of recreational and medical marijuana, which generated more than $200 million in state tax revenue.

The marijuana industry is estimated to have directly generated around 17,000 jobs in Colorado, but plenty more for businesses that support the industry.

Marijuana growers are highly regulated by the state, needing to track each individual plant from the seed to its sale.

Business owners say they are organizing for a legal fight if a crackdown comes.

"It's not as though marijuana is going to go away," said Sally Vander Veer, owner of Medicine Man Dispensary in Denver. "What's going to happen is that marijuana will go back to the black market and I don't think anyone really wants that."

The newly-formed bi-partisan congressional "cannabis caucus," lead by Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young, says Spicer's comments show it needs to work to educate the administration on the impacts of legalized marijuana.