California’s multibillion dollar marijuana industry, by far the nation’s largest, is “crawling out from the underbrush” after voters opted to legalize cannabis this month, the New York Times reports. The bruising ordeals of one of the state’s largest cannabis companies, CannaCraft, have made many in the industry fearful. They suggest a long and bumpy road from marijuana’s approval at the ballot box to the same acceptance enjoyed by wine and beer businesses. When CannaCraft, which produces medical marijuana products, came out of the shadows this summer, it was raided by federal and local law enforcement officers and $5 million in equipment, inventory, and cash were seized.
Medical cannabis companies like CannaCraft continue to be whipsawed by the glaring contradiction between a federal ban on marijuana and still-evolving state laws that should shelter the companies from prosecution. Cannabis enterprises deal almost exclusively in cash because banks, fearing federal consequences, will not take their business. The national election threatens an informal, fragile truce between states that have legalized the drug and the federal government. President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as attorney general has roiled the cannabis industry because of comments he has made about the drug. At a hearing in April, Sessions described marijuana as a “very real danger” and said, “We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.” Cannabis advocates believe that, during a Trump presidency, the Drug Enforcement Administration will reinforce its hard-line stance on marijuana. In August, the federal agency reaffirmed the status of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, the most dangerous class of drugs, which includes heroin.