March 06, 2018

The Politics of Cannabis

This week on Ask a Hempster, Carell had the opportunity to talk with Todd Mitchem, one of the founders of Dacorum Strategies, which is working to change public policy relating to cannabis. In his own words, Mitchem described Dacorum as reasonable, clear voices to help move cannabis initiatives forward at local, state and federal levels.



Joining forces with former elected officials and regulators, Dacorum was born as a new consumer affairs, government affairs, and community outreach platform.

“Combining forces for both hemp and marijuana, Dacorum Strategies is bringing a new level of conversation, as well as, some structure and cohesiveness to the discussion,” Mitchem described.

Mitchem went on to discuss how national cannabis bills have failed in the past. Being a fragmented set of industries, many times different marijuana companies step-in at the last minute, wanting to alter language, and ultimately end up ruining the bill. Mitchem said, “Dacorum is collecting key players in the industry who understand it’s a cohesive narrative which will move laws forward. It’s time for a new narrative. For example, my founding partner is Donald Rosier, a former County Commissioner. Our newest VP of Regulatory Affairs is the former Deputy Director of Revenue for the state of Colorado, Barbara Brohl. We are a serious firm.”

 

Where the Challenges Lie

After being prompted by Mitchem, Carell went on to explain the challenges thay he sees on a daily basis at Pure Hemp Technology LLC (PureHemp), stating federal regulations and the ban on cannabis is really the biggest hurdle. The needed capital is limited by prohibition and federal laws, so federal regulations are actually hindering the creation of the financial infrastructure necessary for the industry to function efficiently.

With the rescinding of the Cole Memo, Carell asked Mitchem how much of a challenge this green light to crack down on legitimate business is going to be for the industry. Mitchem believes Attorney General Sessions actions may just be the catalyst for forcing positive change in the cannabis industry. Basically, Sessions put everything into the State Attornies hands, and those in legal states have no drive to chase the legal and compliant businesses. Mitchem said,

“The  U.S Attornies aren’t going to do much. There’s no appetite to chase the legal players who focus on public health and safety, consumer protection and the rule of law.”

Mitchem added he felt many US Senators are incredibly engaged in the process of legalizing both hemp and marijuana at a federal level. Unfortunately, his biggest frustration lies in the mixed signals which are coming from several different industries. Major agriculture, tobacco, and even alcohol want to step in, promising to bring “order to the chaos.” Clearly, this is not the way the industry would prefer to move forward.

“Now we need to be diligent about having a unified voice, a cohesive thought to help protect the industry and its consumers,” Mitchem stated passionately. “It also sparked debate, while some congressmen thought the Cole Memo gave them a pass… now there’s a bigger sense of urgency.”

 

What about the 10th Amendment?

Carell asked Mitchem, “What about the 10th Amendment? This is quite possibly the most clearly written statement in the whole constitution, why don’t we hear more about this?”

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

“We do,” Mitchem replied. Dacorum is hiring former regulators to defend the cannabis industry on a state by state basis and believes states should have the right and the power to do what they choose. However, it starts at the state and local government level, where consumers get a voice. “That’s where the real magic takes place,” Mitchem said, “that’s where the industry is heard from and listened to.”

Federal government, however, is much more confusing. Mitchem stated the higher up the chain you go, the less and less education about cannabis is taking place. With this lack of education, it’s nearly impossible to have to an intellectual debate. Lawmakers almost always fall back to “Who has the best model?”

 

The Trump Card

Carell asked Mitchem to look through the crystal ball and give his prediction of how he felt the Trump administration would play into the future of ending cannabis prohibition. Like most, Mitchem believes the key to Trump’s heart lies in the economic viability of the cannabis industry and having the opportunity to explain the President the financial potential of a sustainable crop like hemp and cannabis. “We believe, under a positive movement, there could be over 3.5 million jobs within 2 years of removing cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance. We think that is a ‘no-brainer’ argument.”

Mitchem reminded over the last couple of decades the number of jobs which have been lost in the United States including jobs within the agricultural industry, the manufacturing industry, and even in retail. The cannabis industry can offer all three a huge boost.

“Cannabis is a consumable product which is grown and manufactured inside our country, and it is sustainable – so it can be done over and over again. We are just getting started learning all the things the cannabis industry can do.”

 

Changing Cannabis Public Policy

Todd asked Carell what he would recommend regarding changing cannabis public policy? Carell noted the following important steps:

  • Remove MJ and cannabis as a FDA Schedule 1
  • End federal financial restrictions for providing bank accounts and merchant accounts to cannabis businesses and remove interstate commerce barriers
  • Release of non-violent “drug” offenders.
  • Remove restrictions to growing and processing hemp
  • End restrictions of federally funded R&D for cannabis
  • Reinstate the 10 amendment to constitution

Todd next asked Carell: If you were to advise President Trump on how to best to change cannabis public policy what would you advise?”  Carell responded,

“Mr President. You can help make our country great again by empowering industries to grow the bioeconomy creating jobs and sustainably produced products consumers increasingly are demanding. Make our country great again by unlasing the power of farmers. Make our country great again Mr President by providing citizens real plant based medicene. Make our country great again by restoring the pricipals of “life, liberty and happiness”.Free the Weed Mr President  and help make our country great again.”

To learn more about Dacorum and their mission, visit their site at DacorumStrategies.com.