Businesses optimistic, wary in wake of Trump's pledge to back off cannabis – OCRegister

Marijuana stocks are surging while cannabis industry supporters remain optimistic but skeptical days after a surprise pledge from President Donald Trump that he will support state marijuana programs.

“Today, we can all rest a little easier if we’re in the industry,” said David Dinenberg, chief executive of KIND Financial, a Los Angeles maker software for cannabis businesses.

“Whether there will be real change, we still have to wait and see.”

Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, on Friday announced Trump had committed to support legislation codifying state rights to legalize and regulate the cannabis industry. That position is in line with what Trump said on the campaign trail, but he’s been silent on the issue as president.

Since his inauguration, Trump has let U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speak for the Trump administration about cannabis. And Sessions has been both vocal and active in his disdain for legal marijuana, undoing past Department of Justice policies that protected state cannabis rights and encouraging other legislators to do the same.

That’s a major reason why Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa, and Rep. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, are both continuing to pursue separate legislative fixes to the conflict between state and federal cannabis laws.

And Sessions’ harsh stance, combined with Trump’s tendency to surprise everyone, is why many California cannabis industry leaders say they’re taking the President’s promising pledge with a grain of salt.

The conflict

Nine states, including California, have legalized recreational cannabis. And 29 states permit medical marijuana. But marijuana remains illegal under federal law, which still lists it as a Schedule I drug, on par with heroin.

Through early January, an Obama-era policy offered legal marijuana states some protection from federal prosecution. The Cole Memo, issued by Deputy Attorney General James Cole in August 2013, stopped federal officials from prosecuting

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