The cannabis industry could be in for a serious buzz kill.

Marijuana dispensaries and manufacturers are increasingly worried that the Trump administration will crack down on enforcement of federal laws that ban growing and selling marijuana — reversing the president’s stance during his campaign and potentially upending what has become a $7 billion market. The anxiety was sparked by surprise comments from White House spokesman Sean Spicer last month that the government would likely step up its enforcement of drug laws.

Shortly afterward, Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a conference of state attorneys general that he is “dubious” about the benefits of pot. He reiterated those concerns in an interview with conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt last week. 

“Marijuana is against federal law, and that applies in states where they may have repealed their own anti-marijuana laws. So yes, we will enforce law in an appropriate way nationwide,” Sessions said. “It’s not possible for the federal government, of course, to take over everything the local police used to do in a state that’s legalized it. And I’m not in favor of legalization of marijuana. I think it’s a more dangerous drug than a lot of people realize.”

The comments have set off alarm bells for Chuck Smith, co-founder of Dixie Brands, a Denver-based company that manufactures tinctures, topicals and treats infused with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. He founded the company in 2010 and now employs more than 100 people across Colorado, California, Nevada and Arizona, with plans to expand in Washington state and Maryland.

“My concern right now for both the company and industry is just uncertainty,” Smith told CNBC. “It’s hard to build an industry or a company when you don’t have clarity.”

The administration’s remarks also took a toll on shares of Innovative Industrial Properties, which invests in marijuana-growing facilities and is one of the few publicly traded cannabis companies. Its stock price tumbled on the day of Spicer’s press conference and are down more than 13 percent since then. But two other prominent pot stocks, GW Pharmaceuticals and Cara Therapeutics, have shrugged off the news.

 

Check out the other half of this article on CNBC here: http://cnb.cx/2naIywr