The recent arrest of a Colorado grower received a fair amount of attention because some believed that it was a true a reflection of how Jeff Sessions and the Trump Administration feel about the otherwise legal sale of cannabis. Some undoubtedly saw this as a sign that the Cole Memorandum may be going by the way of the dinosaur. In my view, not so fast.
First, in all likelihood, the criminal investigation into this operation was ongoing before the inauguration. As many criminal investigations go, it likely took a fair amount of time. The government only moved on the grower when it knew it could make its case.
Second, and most importantly, the government contends that the grower in question was selling cannabis over state borders. Assuming that is the case, this grower conflicted with the Cole Memorandum in the first instance. As such, even the “more friendly to cannabis” Obama Administration would have likely pursued this matter.
Nevertheless, there is a valuable takeaway from this recent event. If you are engaged in the legal cannabis business, you had better take all steps to ensure that you are complying with your applicable state law and not running afoul of the Cole Memorandum. Push it too far and you too may go by the way of the dinosaur.