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Do Blockchain Cannabis Firms Fear Trump Presidency?

Donald J. Trump said in the fifth Republican debate during the Primary that he would be open to “closing parts of the internet” where ISIS operates.  

“I would certainly be open to closing areas where we are at war with somebody,” Trump said. “I sure as hell don’t want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our Internet.”

Payments startups, which are both open to blockchain technology and servicing cannabis clientele,  depend on an open and free internet.

Republicans may feel emboldened under Trump to undermine net neutrality, which sees the internet as a public utility so internet service providers cannot base access on price tiers. Many Republicans oppose net neutrality. Some feel Mr. Trump’s emphasis on state rights could be good for fintech and cannabis. 

Eugene Lopin, founder of blockchain hemp and cannabis exchange CHEX,  is one. 

“I think this is a boon for cannabis fintech as regional cannabis regulation is coming in eight new markets, and the right fintech solutions can help the market as well as regulators run a more efficient, transparent and compliant cannabis industry,” Mr. Lopin said.

Rita Crague, Chief Compliance Officer and Head of Risk Management at blockchain-forward payments solution Tokken, doesn’t believe a Trump Administration will turn the tide on cannabis legalization nationwide.

“Trump’s election coincides with the passage of eight cannabis-related amendments/propositions,” Ms. Crague, who worked for the CIA. “To me, this is consistent with the post-election analysis that the electorate supported significant changes this year.”

Ms. Crague does not believe President Trump will roll back legalization. “He has said he supports state’s rights to make decisions on cannabis and I think his customary position of championing business interests make it unlikely that he would target so many growing small businesses,” she reasons. Ms. Crague foresees a flood of opportunities – “bad along with good” – thanks to legalization in eight states.

“The most important first steps for entrepreneurs eager to become a part of this industry will be due diligence – for those forming business partnerships and looking for capital investment,” Ms. Crague cautions. “Spending the time to fully research prospective business partners and investors is critical to minimizing risk in a highly regulated industry. Because it is emerging from the black market, the cannabis industry receives a lot of scrutiny from state and local officials, as well as the public.”

She recommends entrepreneurs getting into the cannabis industry read the statutes for their state three times to understand. “This is dry reading of government legalese, but it is critical to fully understand the rules and regulations to protect your business interests.”

Each state will have its own rules about residency requirements for establishing and investing in a cannabis-related enterprise.

“Any cannabis businesses, established or new, would put their expensive licenses and sweat equity at risk by partnering with an unknown or little-known actor who could pose a compliance or reputational risk,” Ms. Crague concludes. She thinks, for the most part, what the future holds under a Trump Administration is anyone’s guess, even hers. 

“I don’t think anyone has anything useful to say about Trump and his cabinet, or what policies they might pursue,” Ms. Crague says. “Trump has said too many contradictory things and is too unpredictable, and there really isn’t anyone who has accurate or genuine insight into what he might do, or allow his cabinet to do.  Everyone currently making predications is guessing, and some of them will end up being correct but that’s just luck. It isn’t based on any actual insight.”

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