The marijuana industry is still in its infancy -- While the industry has brought in billions, some outside forces are attempting to break down the progress.

After a few years of celebrating the progression of marijuana legalization, the current administration is throwing up some roadblocks. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently passed a decision to allow federal prosecutors to go after marijuana businesses in areas where marijuana is legal.

 
 

We all know by now that Sessions is staunchly against the plant, so this decision was hardly a surprise. But is the administration willing to circumvent states' rights for a larger agenda? Vice recently interviewed LivWell Enlightened Health's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, Neal Levine, to get his thoughts on the decision, and what he, as a leader in the industry, aims to do about it.

According to Vice, Levine has been anticipating this decision. Pushback on the marijuana industry isn't a new trend, obviously, so it makes sense that those invested in the industry would expect a move like this from an official that is so strongly against marijuana. Levine has been advocating for marijuana liberalization since the early days of Bush II. After close to 20 years of both paid and unpaid activism, he now lobbies in Colorado and Washington, D.C., for one of Colorado's biggest weed retailers -- LivWell. Levine has established the New Federalism Fund, an organization driven to win over the administration when it comes to supporting legalization.

"The social justice component of the marijuana argument -- all of which is completely legitimate -- has been prominent for some time," Levine told Vice, shortly after Sessions' decision. "By contrast, the New Federalism Fund was set up to talk to the right, from the right, using the language of the right." It really is a brilliant idea ... How many discussions have you had -- from either the right or the left -- about an issue important to either side, only for your thoughts/opinions/etc., to fall on deaf ears? It all boils down to knowing your audience and knowing how to speak with your audience. Clearly, a "bleeding heart" approach doesn't work all the time. You gotta speak the language to get through, and Levine's libertarian label allows him to bridge the gap. The NFF's goal is to win over the right (namely the "Jeff Sessions" of the party) by appealing to the fundamentals of the party -- states' rights. The organization sticks to its guns on the belief that states should be free to set their own paths with minimal interference from the federal government. This was advertised as the plan during the election; our president himself agreed that decisions regarding marijuana should be left up to the states. But it has become clear that others in the administration need a little more convincing than others.
"Marijuana represents the ideal opportunity for the administration to reaffirm its commitment to the principle that states should have the power to decide." -- Neal Levine, LivWell, via Vice
The NFF has gone father than just pulling at the Constitutional heartstrings of the R party. The organization has adopted "Trumpian" language, promoting the job-creating opportunities of the industry, as well as the huge potential for profitability in the industry. The organization has called on conservative lawmakers to shed a piece of IRS code that takes a heartbreaking amount of money from marijuana businesses through immense taxation. 280E is a bit of tax code that was created in the '80s that prevents any company from deducting business expenses connected to federally prohibited substances ... like marijuana. Ultimately, businesses in the industry are paying rates around 70 percent. "We aren't asking for special favors," Levine told Vice. "Marijuana businesses just want to be treated like everyone else. People assume we're swimming in money. What they don't realize is that if you're in the cannabis business, the government is helping itself to pretty much everything that you're taking."

Several Republicans have pledged their support for this change in tax code, and many spoke out against Sessions' anti-marijuana move -- including Cory Gardner, who once upon a time opposed legalization. While this is all great and good, the decision makers seem to be putting their foot down when it comes to the legitimacy of marijuana. It's important for those who see the benefits of legalization -- and not focus on ancient misconceptions of the plant. [caption id="attachment_31596" align="aligncenter" width="507"]legalization Courtesy of the Washington Examiner[/caption] The ultimate goal is to ensure the marijuana industry continues to thrive. The opportunity in the industry is just now budding; with pushback comes halting of innovation. Luckily, something those on the right do seem to understand is dollar signs, and the industry has definitely proved its worth in that realm. As we wait on further decisions to be made regarding legalization, supporters continue to support, while groups like the New Federalism Fund pave the way for greater understanding and gap-bridging to ensure everyone understands the multi-faceted benefits of federal legalization.

The legalized marijuana industry raked in over $10 billion last year