NewsUSCould We See the U.S. Legalize Marijuana Before 2020?

Marijuana legalization has been progressing through many U.S. States and as many as 10 have legalized it for recreational use thus far. However, federal laws remain unchanged and that's the industry's biggest impediment today. Without being able to transport cannabis across State lines it's inefficient for companies to operate unless they are confined to just one location.
David Jagielski David JagielskiMarch 7, 20196 min

Marijuana legalization has been progressing through many U.S. States and as many as 10 have legalized it for recreational use thus far. However, federal laws remain unchanged and that’s the industry’s biggest impediment today. Without being able to transport cannabis across State lines it’s inefficient for companies to operate unless they are confined to just one location.

One U.S. senator is hoping that will change sooner rather than later. Cory Booker of New Jersey reintroduced the Marijuana Justice Act in the hopes of finally legalizing pot and also expunging the records of those who have been charged for crimes relating to using or possessing cannabis.

The Marijuana Justice Act seeks to reverse decades of this unfair, unjust, and failed policy by removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances and making it legal at the federal level

– Cory Booker

The coming year will be an important one as we’re gearing up for another U.S. election, where marijuana will likely be a hot topic. Booker and other hopefuls for the presidency support marijuana legalization and it will likely be a big part of their campaigns. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are just a couple of big names that support legalization and that have signed off on this bill.

Cannabis is expected to be a big issue during the primaries and could help decide the next Democratic nominee. And with marijuana legalization now at the forefront and many candidates supporting it, it’s more likely than ever that we’ll see some traction at the federal level. Whether this bill will make it out of Republican-controlled Senate may be a bit of a long shot, but even from the GOP we’ve started to see more support for marijuana. John Boehner, the former speaker of the house, became an advisor for a cannabis company as he too has seen the potential that exists in the industry and inevitability surrounding its legalization.

Attitudes have no doubt been changing, but whether they’ve come far enough for the bill to make progress before the next election remains to be seen. There are still many opponents of marijuana and it’s far from a guarantee that just because the bill has been introduced again that it’ll get passed.

Bottom line

At this point, it appears as though it’s inevitable that marijuana will be legalized in the U.S. and it’s really just a question of when that will happen. Canopy Growth Corp (TSX:WEED) (NYSE:CGC) is one company that’s wasted no time in finding a reason to setup shop in the U.S. after learning the farm bill would enable the company to sell hemp-derived CBD products there (in States that permit it). And it’s likely we’ll see many Canadian companies follow suit as well.

Once legalization happens in the U.S., the industry will likely see another big wave of mergers and acquisitions as other industries will feel more comfortable getting involved with cannabis. Currently, there are still too many obstacles and stigmas that will keep many of the big names away, if for no other reason than concern over potentially damaging their brands. Even though there’s been a lot of interest in cannabis beverages, we still haven’t seen many big deals involving it, which suggests to me companies are still hesitant and waiting in the sidelines. However, that could change very soon.

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