Cannabis entrepreneurs spent decades longing for Washington's blessing — but now a vocal corner of the industry is afraid federal marijuana legalization poses an existential threat.
Two in three Americans live in a state that has approved the sale of recreational weed. Over the past decade, what has evolved in the policy gap with federal law is a patchwork of state-sanctioned fiefdoms where cannabis markets have largely developed locally and extend just to the border.
But the prospect of lifting all federal prohibitions has some business owners, regulators, and lawmakers afraid doing so too quickly will invite industry behemoths to eat up small companies and push minority-owned firms out altogether.
"It's going to open up a tidal wave of large operators ... sucking up all the capital in the capital markets and essentially rendering social equity participants unable to even get funded," said Aaron Goines, co-owner of Emerald Turtle, a social equity-owned cannabis delivery company in Massachusetts. "In general, for social equity, I think it would be a disaster at this point for federal legalization to occur."
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