Cole Memo author is appointed as adviser for National Cannabis Roundtable

Cole Memo author is appointed as adviser for National Cannabis Roundtable

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

The National Cannabis Roundtable (NCR) a coalition of cannabis companies   recently announced the development of a brand new advisory board.

Interestingly, one of the key members of the Roundtable’s new advisory board is former Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole.

He is renowned for being the author of numerous prestigious U.S. Department of Justice memos that steered U.S. cannabis reform in the right direction almost one decade ago. 

“Cannabis reform is incredibly complicated not least because of the robust state marketplaces, which have developed under federal prohibition,” Cole is quoted as saying in an official news release published by MJBiz Daily.

The 69-year old American attorney will assume his role on the board alongside a handful of acclaimed political figures; many of whom are already affiliated with the NCR. 

They include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Former U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (Colorado Republican)
  • Former House Speaker John Boehner (Republican)
  • Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius (Democrat.)

About the MORE Act, the SAFE Banking Act and the CAOA Act

In his recently-published news release, Cole noted that he is “looking forward” to partaking in the ongoing discussion pertaining to federal legalization; especially since Congress is continuously encountering cannabis-focused bills, including the MORE Act, the SAFE Banking Act and the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA). 

The aforementioned chunks of legislation are just some examples of the cannabis reform measures that AG Cole backs. Let’s take a closer look at what each one entails:

  • MORE ActThe Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, better known as the “MORE Act,” is a recommended measure that would effectively deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) permanently, as well as implement numerous cannabis-focused criminal and social justice reforms.
  • SAFE Banking ActThe Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act was initially put before members of Congress in May of 2017, at which point it was sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO).1 Since this time, the bill has been reintroduced on various occasions, with the most recent attempt occurring earlier this year under the sponsorship of Sen. Merkley and Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) in the Senate, and Perlmutter in the House. The bipartisan law aims to encourage more financial institutions to do business with legal cannabis businesses without them having to worry about intervention from federal banking regulators.
  • CAOA Act – On July 14, Chuck Schumer announced the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA). The CAOA relinquishes regulatory control of cannabis from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and transfers it to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), and the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF). 

Cole authored three separate memos for cannabis reform in the U.S.

Cole is renowned for his five-year stint serving in the Obama administration’s DOJ a role that stretched from 2010 to 2015. Aside from supporting the three aforementioned cannabis reform measures, the AG was also the primary author of three separate memos.

Undoubtedly, out of the three memos, the most noteworthy was authored in 2013 following the voter-approved legalization of recreational cannabis in Colorado that occurred the year prior. The memo allowed both states to proceed with cannabis sales for adults aged 21 and above, devoid of any federal intervention risks.

Despite the fact that all of Cole’s memos were overturned in 2018 by the former AG Jeff Sessions, their legislative lenience made it possible for the cannabis industry to establish firm footing on a countrywide scale without concerns about DEA reprisal. Consequently, this has propelled the cannabis industry to its impressive status as one of the nation’s fastest-evolving industries.