Texas Lawmakers Will Vote On Marijuana Decriminalization This Week

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘MARIJUANA MOMENT’)

 

Texas Lawmakers Will Vote On Marijuana Decriminalization This Week

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The Texas House is scheduled to vote on a bill on Thursday that would make low-level marijuana possession punishable by a fine with no jail time.

The development comes one month after the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee approved the decriminalization legislation in a 5-2 vote.

Under the bill, possession of one ounce or less of marijuana would be punishable by a $250 fine for the first two offenses, and it would be considered a class C misdemeanor for subsequent offenses, which is a lower penalty than is the case under current law.

Currently, possession of two ounces or less is a class B misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail. That’s in addition to a permanent criminal record, which carries steep, long-term consequences.

“Regardless of political affiliation, Texans are in support of reducing penalties for low-level marijuana possession,” Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, told Marijuana Moment. “We want to see our valuable public safety resources used in a better way and we don’t want a simple marijuana charge to keep people from going to school or participating in the workforce.”

Despite the state’s reputation as a conservative stronghold, cannabis reform is advancing in several forms through the Texas legislature. That includes legislation to legalize and regulate industrial hemp and its derivatives, which was approved by the House on Tuesday.

It also includes a bill to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, which unanimously cleared by a House committee last week.

The Texas Republican Party endorsed all three modest reform measures last year, though it stopped short of backing broader adult-use legalization.

Advocates are optimistic that the decriminalization bill will make it all the way to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who has expressed openness to signing legislation to reduce penalties for simple possession.

This story has been updated to note the House’s passage of a hemp bill.

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

1 Big Reason Why U.S. Marijuana Legalization Might Actually Happen This Year

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE MOTLEY FOOL’)

 

1 Big Reason Why U.S. Marijuana Legalization Might Actually Happen This Year

The prospects for U.S. marijuana legalization appear to be better than ever.

Apr 9, 2019 at 6:00AM
Medical marijuana is now legal in 33 U.S. states. Recreational marijuana is legal in 10 states. All forms of marijuana, however, remain illegal at the federal level in the U.S. But that could change.

A bipartisan group of senators and representatives in the U.S. Congress recently introduced the STATES (Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States) Act. The bill would prevent the federal government from intervening in states that have legalized marijuana. It would effectively make marijuana legal at the federal level in much of the U.S.

There has been plenty of skepticism about whether the STATES Act has a shot at passage. But there’s one big reason why U.S. marijuana legalization might actually happen this year: politics.

"Legal marijuana" signs.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Holding the Senate

One of the sponsors of the STATES Act is Sen. Cory Gardner, R.-Colo. Sen. Gardner’s home state of Colorado has a thriving marijuana industry that’s expected to reach $2.5 billion by 2022, including both medical and recreational pot sales.

Gardner has been a vocal supporter of getting the federal government out of the way of states that have chosen to legalize marijuana. Last year, he even held up President Trump’s judicial nominees after Jeff Sessions, then Secretary of the U.S. Department of Justice, overturned Obama administration policies about not intervening in states that had legalized marijuana. Gardner’s effort ultimately led to a deal with President Trump to keep the DOJ from taking any actions against Colorado or other states that allowed legal marijuana.

The GOP maintained control of the U.S. Senate in the 2018 elections and even picked up a couple of seats. However, the map will look much different in 2020. There will be 22 Republican seats up for election compared to only 12 Democratic seats. Holding on to every current Republican seat will be very important to the GOP.

One of those seats that Republicans want to retain in next year’s elections is held by — you probably guessed it — Sen. Cory Gardner. If Gardner can campaign on success in keeping Colorado’s marijuana industry safe from federal intervention, it could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

There are three hurdles for the STATES Act in the Senate. First, the bill must be brought before the Judiciary Committee for review. Second, assuming the STATES Act clears the Judiciary Committee, it must be advanced to the full Senate for a vote. The third hurdle is actually passing the Senate. Gardner is confident that the Senate would vote in favor of the STATES Act. He stated recently to Roll Call, “If we get it on the floor of the Senate, it passes.”

The bad news is that Sen. Lindsay Graham, R.-S.C., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has stated that he isn’t “very excited” about the legislation. It’s possible that Graham could stop the STATES Act dead in its tracks.

However, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky., makes the decision on which bills are brought up for votes before the full Senate. He also can exert pressure on committee chairmen like Graham as to which bills are reviewed. McConnell no doubt knows that Gardner would be less vulnerable if the STATES Act is at least brought up for a vote. There’s a reasonable chance that he will work behind the scenes to help Gardner.

What about the House?

The dynamics are much different in the U.S. House of Representatives. Democrats control the House by 36 seats. The STATES Act is virtually assured of sailing through committee review and is likely to win a solid majority vote in the full House.

Passage of the bill in the House also could increase the chances that it isn’t blocked in the Senate. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D.-Ore., is one of the sponsors of the House legislation. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Blumenauer said, “If this gets moving, I think you will see the Senate get on board. I think Mitch McConnell is not going to want to have his members be vulnerable.”

Blumenauer is probably right. Republican senators like Cory Gardner would be especially vulnerable if the STATES Act doesn’t come up for a vote in the Senate. Again, Mitch McConnell knows this.

One final hurdle

There is one final hurdle if the STATES Act passes both the House and the Senate: President Trump must sign the bill into law. However, Sen. Gardner doesn’t think that will be a problem. Gardner stated to Roll Call, “The president has been very clear to me that he supports our legislation.”

This is consistent with the deal made between Gardner and President Trump last year. At that time, Gardner said that President Trump committed to support “a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.”

Better prospects than ever

It’s still possible, of course, that something could happen to derail the STATES Act. Sen. Graham could choose to dig in his heels and refuse to bring the bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Maybe there won’t be enough votes in the Senate for passage.

Look for the share prices of marijuana stocks to serve as a gauge for the chances of passage of the STATES Act. U.S.-based marijuana stocks like Origin House (NASDAQOTH:ORHOF) would almost certainly rise as the prospects for the bill increase. So would the share prices of leading Canadian marijuana growers such as Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC), which would be able to enter the U.S. marijuana market if the STATES Act becomes law.

One thing is for sure: The prospects for U.S. marijuana legalization appear to be better than ever. And the GOP’s desire to retain control of the Senate could be what tips the scales even more toward legalization.

Keith Speights has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Origin House. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

A record 61% of Americans now want weed to be legalized across the US

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘BUSINESS INSIDER’)

 

A record 61% of Americans now want weed to be legalized across the US, with support rising in every age group

Elon Musk (smoking pot)
Tesla CEO Elon Musk with a joint on “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast in September.
 The Joe Rogan Experience/YouTube
  • A record 61% of Americans say weed should be legalized, according to the respected General Social Survey.
  • Support has grown across all age groups, US regions, and political affiliations.
  • Growing support has seen all 2020 presidential candidates backing legalization efforts.

A record 61% of Americans say pot should be legalized, according to the respected General Social Survey.

The poll, which has tracked support for legal marijuana since 1973, found that approval reached an all-time high across all age groups, US regions, and political affiliations in 2018.

The numbers reflect how attitudes toward the drug are shifting across the nation. While the majority of Americans want the legalization of cannabis now, only 16% did in 1987 and 1990, the years with the joint-lowest support.

states where marijuana legal mapSkye Gould/Business Insider

Consumption has also become more accepted across the US. Ten states, including California, Colorado, Michigan, have legalized the use of recreational marijuana, and 33 states allow its medical use.

Read moreThis map shows every US state where pot is legal

Though support grew across all age brackets, it remains the highest among 18- to 34-year-olds, the survey found. More than 70% of young Americans say they want pot to be legal, while only 42% of interviewees over 65 say the same.

Survey takers in the Midwest are most in favor, at 68%. While support was lowest in the South, more than half of respondents there still said marijuana should be legalized.

On the political spectrum, Democrats (69%) and independents (66%) were largely in favor of legalizing weed. Only 42% of Republicans agreed, but support among them has been growing steadily over the years. In 2012, only a third of Republican voters wanted cannabis to be legal.

weed dispensary
A weed dispensary in Michigan, the 10th state to legalize recreational weed.
 (Carlos Osorio/AP)

The federal government began banning the sale, cultivation, and use of the cannabis plant about 80 years ago. Although some states have legalized it, marijuana remains illegal on a federal level.

People who oppose marijuana argue that it can be easily misused. But campaigners say that legalization is the only way to cut off revenue from criminal organizations that profit from selling a relatively safe plant.

Now growing public support has all 2020 presidential candidates backing different efforts to legalize marijuana — whether they are Democrats or Republicans.

Sen. Corey Booker has made legalization a centerpiece of his campaign, Elizabeth Warren is pushing to protect the pot industry, and President Donald Trump has said states should have the right to legalize pot if they want.

Read moreWhere the 2020 presidential candidates stand on marijuana legalization

John Lapp, a Democratic national campaign strategist, told The Boston Globe that the political evolution has been remarkable.

“Marijuana legalization, if you look back, was really something for fringe candidates. It’s just not very controversial at all now,” he said.

SEE ALSO: 10 things that can happen after a state legalizes marijuana

Legal Marijuana Will Create 5 New Professions And 250,000 More New Jobs By 2020

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

Six years ago recreational marijuana use was illegal in all 50 states — and had been for nearly a century. Following the 2018 midterm elections, anyone over 21 will soon be allowed to legally consume marijuana in 10 states plus the District of Columbia. Overall, 33 states in the past 22 years have passed some form of marijuana legalization, from medical to recreational use.

Despite the ever-present federal threat — the Drug Enforcement Administration still considers marijuana a banned substance, and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened a crackdown — the $8.5 billion U.S. marijuana industry seems poised to grow as rapidly as the law will allow it. And it’s generating jobs just as quickly.

By 2020 the industry is expected to create 250,000 new jobs, according to New Frontier Data, an industry research firm. In 2017 the number of job posts for openings in the marijuana industry increased by 445 percent, outpacing tech (254 percent) and health care (70 percent), according to ZipRecruiter.

The industry is in search of workers across the spectrum, from accounting to compliance, customer service, sales, technology and more. As the industry grows, so too do the opportunities. California, Colorado and Washington currently have the greatest demand for workers, but that could shift as legalization spreads.

Though the total number of marijuana jobs are still far smaller than those other, much older industries, they include several positions that didn’t exist prior to legalization, offering enterprising workers the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of an entirely new career.

Because legalization has come state by state, there is no single association or governing body offering licenses, training or certifications. Workers looking to enter the industry will need to do a bit of research to find out their specific state requirements.

But newcomers don’t necessarily need an encyclopedic nature of weed culture to succeed in the industry. In fact, Karson Humiston, CEO and founder of recruiting firm Vangst, said she decided to start her firm, which specializes in the cannabis industry, after discovering the breadth of talent required by entrepreneurs attending a 2015 industry convention.

“When I asked people what positions they were hiring for, it was everything from a botanist to a chemical engineer to a Ph.D. to a retail store manager to a marketing manager to a human resource manager to a CFO,” she said. “You name it, and these companies were hiring for it.”

Though some may hesitate to join an industry selling a drug that’s still banned by federal law, everyday workers have little to fear, said Morgan Fox, media relations director for the National Cannabis Industry Association. “We haven’t seen any U.S. attorneys make an effort to crack down on businesses that are compliant with state law, even though the former attorney general gave them carte blanche to do so,” he said, referring to Sessions. “If someone is just an employee of a company, I would think there’s pretty much no risk.”

Here are five fast-growing new careers driven by marijuana legalization. Salary data is gleaned from the 2018 Vangst Salary Guide. In most cases the salary ranges are unusually broad due to the industry’s youth and rapid expansion.

Director of cultivation
marijuana cultivation
Garden Remedies operates a cultivation facility in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
Garden Remedies

They call it a weed, but growing crops of strong, healthy marijuana is both an art and a science. All grow operations, no matter how small, need a director of cultivation — also known as a master grower — to oversee planting, cloning, feeding, watering and pest management. At larger operations, cultivation directors have management responsibility for a team of growers, and the position typically requires frequent interaction with law enforcement to ensure compliance.

A background in horticulture or agriculture is a must for this job, and advanced degrees in either are sometimes required. Familiarity with cannabis is preferred, but plenty of employers are happy to hire someone with experience managing a large-scale greenhouse operation.

Average national salary range for qualified professionals: $88,000 to $250,500

Budtender
AP: container of marijuana buds for a customer at Utopia Gardens, a medical marijuana dispensary, in Detroit. Michigan
In this Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, photo, a clerk reaches for a container of marijuana buds for a customer at Utopia Gardens, a medical marijuana dispensary, in Detroit.

Equal parts pharmacist, bartender, confidant and hall monitor, the budtender is where the marijuana industry meets the consumer. From behind the dispensary counter, budtenders check IDs and prescription cards, track all cannabis sales and — most important — help customers understand the products and how to use them.

Though budtenders are expected to have extensive knowledge of the goods, previous marijuana experience is not necessarily required. “Budtending is a great way to familiarize yourself with the industry and the peculiarities and particulars of it,” said Fox. Many dispensaries will offer on-the-job training, and budtenders are well positioned to advance in the industry.

Average national salary range for qualified professionals: $13.25 per hour to $16 per hour.

Dispensary manager
medical marijuana dispensary
Garden Remedies opened its first medical marijuana dispensary in Newton, Massachusetts in 2016.
Garden Remedies

In some ways, managing a marijuana dispensary is a lot like managing any other retail store: manage the staff, track inventory, and cultivate a clean, professional atmosphere. But the highly regulated nature of the product makes it a bit more complicated. It’s the manager’s job to make sure all employees are compliant with state laws, that everyone entering the store is 21 or older or, if it’s not a recreational store, that all customers have proper medical credentials.

Slip up and your dispensary could be shut down by the state. Dispensary managers often have experience running a high-end retail operation, like an apparel or jewelry shop.

Average national salary range for qualified professionals: $56,000 to $98,000

Director of extraction
Reusable CNBC: Vireo Health lab medical marijuana
A lab technician at Vireo Health in Johnstown, NY.
Jodi Gralnick | CNBC

Legal marijuana is sold in a dizzying variety of forms, including gummies, vaping oils, candies, lotions, teas, pills, perfumes — even tampons. The director of extraction oversees the production of the oils and concentrates within the plants needed to manufacture such products. That means running — or possibly building — a laboratory, managing a staff and maintaining strict scientific protocols.

Not surprisingly, this is a job that requires some skills. “Typically, we see a lot of Ph.Ds, chemists and people coming out of pharmaceutical labs going for these jobs,” said Humiston of Vangst. Fortunately, these positions tend to be well compensated, with salaries topping $250,000 in some states.

Average national salary range for qualified professionals: $72,000 to $191,000

Trimmer
GP: Inside The Delta 9 Cannabis Inc. Facility As Canada Set To Legalize Marijuana
A worker inspects cannabis plants growing inside a shipping container grow pod at the Delta 9 Cannabis Inc. facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Trevor Hagan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

This entry-level, hands-on job represents the marijuana industry’s intersection with the gig economy. Trimmers are called in at harvest time to remove buds from stems and trim leaves in preparation for sale. And while some large indoor grow operations employ trimmers year-round, most smaller businesses will hire trimmers either on a part-time or per-day basis. In fact, digital job boards, like Mary’s List and Vangst GIGS, are popping up to connect growers with freelancers. Though trimmers require no special education, they are usually required to be at least 21 years old and to obtain a special state permit.

A word of warning: Trimmers are the first marijuana workers to face possible displacement by technology. “There’s starting to be a little competition here between humans and machines, which can produce three to four times as much product as a human trimmer,” said Fox. But many marijuana purists insist on a hand-trimmed product, which they believe carries greater potency.

Score one for the humans.

Average national salary range for qualified professionals: $12.25 per hour to $14 per hour.

Michigan becomes first state in Midwest to allow recreational marijuana

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

Michigan becomes first state in Midwest to allow recreational marijuana

In a new law that took effect Thursday, Michigan is now the first Midwestern state to legally allow recreational marijuana. It’s the 10th state to legalize recreational pot.

It could take a year before Michigan starts licensing medical marijuana shops to sell to recreational users. Critics worry the wait could lead to high demand on the black market where there’s no oversight, reports CBS News correspondent Nikki Battiste.

Stuart Carter showed us the products at his medical marijuana shop in Detroit.

“We’ve had people show up. Unfortunately, we have to shut them down,” Carter said.

Carter said he is eager to sell recreational marijuana at the store, but the state is requiring shops to go through a lengthy application process.

“They’re not going to take applications for about a year, and then there’s going to be the vetting process,” Carter said.

Though people will have to wait to buy recreational pot in stores, the new law allows people 21 or older to keep 10 ounces in their home and grow 12 marijuana plants for personal use.

“It’s going to be the marijuana capital of America,” said Scott Greenlee, the president of Healthy and Productive Michigan. He opposes Michigan’s high possession limit, allowing people to carry up to 2.5 ounces. It’s the largest recreational carry limit in the country.

“It’s too much,” Greenlee said. “That’s going to lead to a lot of crime as well. People are going to realize that all of this product is sitting around. Our law enforcement community is very concerned about is all that marijuana in all those large quantities.”

The new law may be good news for low-level pot offenders. More than 20,000 people were arrested last year for marijuana possession or use that is now legal.

California legalized recreational pot use in 2016. Since then, San Francisco district attorney George Gascon has cleared over a thousand misdemeanor marijuana cases.

“Quite frankly, it can impact your ability to get employment,” Gascon said.

Minor charges, Gascon believes, can have a major impact.

“In some places, it will impact your ability to get public housing or get subsidized housing,” Gascon said. “It may impact your ability to go into military services.”

But Greenlee said most low-level offenders don’t face severe consequences.

“Typically what’s being dismissed is a ticket, a fine,” Greenlee said. “It’s very similar to if… we’re going to 15 miles over the speed limit. We’ll get a ticket, we’ll pay our ticket and move on.”

One county prosecutor in Michigan told CBS News he has already dismissed 50 pending cases for misdemeanor marijuana offenders that are no longer illegal as of Thursday. Under the new law, it is still illegal to use pot in public, on college campuses, and while driving.

Missouri To Approve Legal Marijuana For All Adults In 2019

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF MARIJUANA NEWS)

Missouri’s voter-approved medical marijuana law hasn’t even gone into effect yet, but one state lawmaker is already taking steps to legalize cannabis across the board in 2019.

Rep. Brandon Ellington (D) prefiled a bill on Monday for the upcoming session that, if enacted, would permit adults 21 and older to legally grow, possess and consume marijuana. Individuals would be allowed to keep up to two ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants—three of which could be “mature, flowering plants” at a time.


Marijuana Moment is currently tracking more than 900 cannabis bills in state legislatures and Congress. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Retail sales would still be prohibited under the proposed legislation, however, meaning that the Show Me State would have a form of noncommercial legalization similar to those that exist now in Vermont and Washington, D.C.

Read the text of the new bill here:

Missouri marijuana legalization bill by Marijuana Moment on Scribd

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/395010906/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-pA73ntDVrUNPmKNKNEzz&show_recommendations=true

Voters in the state approved one of three competing medical cannabis measures during November’s midterm election, 66-34 percent. The law is set to formally go into effect on Thursday.

Even so, Ellington seems to be wasting no time getting the ball rolling on adult-use legalization.

https://www.marijuanamoment.net/the-midwest-may-be-the-next-frontier-in-marijuana-legalization/embed/#?secret=WO4tY1hhrT

 

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The 11th State to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Is …

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘MOTLEY FOOL’ WEB SITE)

 

The 11th State to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Is …

This state could see $850 million in annual cannabis sales by 2022 if recreational weed is legalized.

Dec 2, 2018 at 11:41AM
This has been a big year for the North American cannabis industry. Without question, the highlight was the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada on Oct. 17. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had spoken for years about legalization and was finally able to see his vision realized with the passage of the Cannabis Act. A few years from now, when capacity-expansion projects are complete, the Canadian legal weed industry could be generating upward of $5 billion in added annual sales.

It’s also been a banner year for the U.S. market. During midterm elections in November, voters in two new states approved medical marijuana initiatives, bringing the number of states to have legalized pot in some capacity to 32. Residents of Michigan also voted to green-light adult-use cannabis, becoming the 10th state to do so.

Now cannabis enthusiasts and investors have turned their attention to which state(s) could be next to legalize. Thankfully, not much guesswork may be needed.

A judge's gavel next to a pile of dried cannabis buds.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

The Garden State has its eyes set on legalizing adult-use pot

On Monday, Nov. 26, two panels in New Jersey voted overwhelmingly to approve three new cannabis bills — one of which aims to legalize adult-use marijuana.

These panels, from the state’s Senate and Assembly, voted 7 to 4, with two abstentions in the Senate, and 7 to 3, with one abstention in the Assembly, in favor of the bill that would legalize recreational marijuana within the state. The additional two bills that also passed cover an expansion of the state’s existing medical cannabis program and the creation of a system that would speed up criminal expungements of low-level cannabis offenses. Now all three bills move on for an official vote from the full Senate and Assembly. Assuming passage, a recreational marijuana bill could find its way to Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D-N.J.) desk within a few weeks.

What might recreational legalization look like in the Garden State? As with other legalized states, it would allow adults aged 21 and up to purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis. There would be an attached tax rate of 12%, which would be considerably lower than the aggregate tax rates that some folks might pay in Washington state or California of up to 37% and 45%, respectively. For what it’s worth, Gov. Murphy has suggested that a 12% tax rate is too low. Instead, Murphy has called for an excise tax of 25% on legal weed sales for what could be an $850 million industry within the state by 2022.

A bearded man holding up a lit cannabis joint with his fingertips.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Beyond the basics, the broad-based legalization bill also includes a section on the expedited expungement of low-level marijuana offenses. Though a separate bill is being worked on that would tackle this faster and more efficiently, the mere existence of this clause is worth noting. It’s also worth pointing out that North Dakota voters turned down a recreational legalization initiative in the recent midterms that had an expungement clause, suggesting that it’s no given to attract support.

Finally, the bill would allow for marijuana delivery services within the state, as well as give permission for dispensaries to create “consumption areas.” Essentially, New Jersey would permit pot shops within dispensaries where consumers could enjoy their product outside of their homes.

Needless to say, it’s an ambitious bill with a lot more going on than a simple cut-and-dried legalization of recreational pot.

An indoor commercial cannabis growing facility.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Marijuana stocks and investors are paying close attention

Though Gov. Murphy has taken exception to the proposed tax rate, he’s been very clear in the past about his support for legalizing recreational marijuana as both a revenue driver within the state and a means to reduce cannabis enforcement costs. This, presumably, gives New Jersey a very good chance of becoming the 11th state to legalize recreational pot. Should this happen, a number of pot stocks could be all smiles, and none more so than Curaleaf Holdings(NASDAQOTH:LDVTF).

Curaleaf, which IPO’d in late October with more than a $4 billion valuation, making it the largest IPO in marijuana history, currently has 28 dispensaries, 12 cultivation facilities, and nine processing sites throughout select legalized U.S. states. As a reminder, since the federal government has stood firm on its Schedule I classification for cannabis (i.e., wholly illegal), interstate transport of marijuana isn’t permissible. Therefore, the only way to vertically control supply and costs as a U.S. dispensary is to also grow and process cannabis within a state, which is what Curaleaf is doing.

As noted by analyst Robert Fagan of GMP Securities, courtesy of Investor’s Business Daily, the broad-based legalization bill would allow existing dispensaries in the state (which includes Curaleaf’s) to immediately begin recreational sales, assuming approval, without the need to apply for any new licensing.

Furthermore, Curaleaf is working on a 435,000-square-foot greenhouse facility in New Jersey. The first phase of that production should come online next year, allowing it to become a key producer and retailer within the Garden State.

A marijuana processor holding a freshly trimmed bud in their gloved left hand.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

By a similar token, the also-newly public Acreage Holdings (NASDAQOTH:ACRZF) would likely benefit from a New Jersey legalization. Back in March, the vertically integrated Acreage made the decision to enter the New Jersey market by partnering with the Compassionate Care Foundation (CCF) in the state. CCF is one of only six licensed alternative treatment center operators in New Jersey, with Acreage providing the financial resources to help meet patient demand. Presumably, with Acreage having assets up and down the cannabis supply chain, it could broaden its horizons if the New Jersey legalization bill passes.

Last, and per the norm, don’t sleep on KushCo Holdings (NASDAQOTH:KSHB). Pretty much anytime a new country or state legalizes in some capacity, KushCo is there chomping at the bit to get its piece of the packaging-and-branding-solutions pie. As a provider of tamper- and child-resistant packaging, KushCo ensures that medical and recreational growers remain compliant with local, state, and federal laws. Also, because packaging requirements tend to be so strict, KushCo takes on the task of helping growers and their products stand out. It’s an indispensable behind-the-scenes pot stock that could benefit if the Garden State goes green.

Sean Williams has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends KushCo Holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

South Korea Legalizes Medical Marijuana, First Country In Asia To Do So

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS DAILY NEWS)

 

South Korea became the first country in East Asia to legalize medical cannabis, marking a significant milestone in the global industry and a potential turning point in how the drug is perceived in traditionally conservative societies.

The country’s National Assembly voted to approve amending the Act on the Management of Narcotic Drugs to pave the way for non-hallucinogenic dosages of medical cannabis prescriptions.

Medical marijuana will still be tightly restricted, but the law’s approval by the central government is seen as a breakthrough in a country many believed would be last – not among the first – to approve any use of cannabis, even if it is just low-THC, or CBD, to start.

To receive medical cannabis, patients would be required to apply to the Korea Orphan Drug Center, a government body established to facilitate patient access to rare medicines in the country.

Approval would be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Patients would also need to receive a prescription from a medical practitioner.

South Korea’s cannabis law overcame a major obstacle in July when it won the support of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, which said at the time it would permit Epidiolex, Marinol, Cesamet and Sativex for conditions including epilepsy, symptoms of HIV/AIDS and cancer-related treatments.

On Nov. 23 the ministry said a series of amended laws passed in a National Assembly session will expand the treatment opportunities for patients with rare diseases.

A number of other countries had been vying to join Israel as the first countries in Asia to allow medical cannabis, including Thailand and Malaysia.

“South Korea legalizing medical cannabis, even if it will be tightly controlled with limited product selection, represents a significant breakthrough for the global cannabis industry,” said Vijay Sappani, CEO of Toronto-based Ela Capital, a venture capital firm exploring emerging markets in the cannabis space.

“The importance of Korea being the first country in East Asia to allow medical cannabis at a federal level should not be understated. Now it’s a matter of when other Asian countries follow South Korea, not if.”

Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

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U.S.: The growing consensus for legal marijuana

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE)

 

The growing consensus for legal marijuana

The United States remains starkly divided between red and blue, with Republicans and Democrats each registering some gains and some setbacks in the elections. But on one important issue, a national consensus is emerging that transcends party and ideology. America is becoming Weed Nation.

On Tuesday, Michigan became the 10th state, along with the District of Columbia, to decide to legalize marijuana for purely recreational use. A quarter of Americans will live in states that let them get stoned without fear of the constable.

The states include not only reliably crunchy Oregon and Massachusetts but two that went for Donald Trump in 2016 — Alaska and Michigan. They range from the East Coast to the West and from the first in population, California, to the 49th, Vermont. The others are Colorado, Maine, Nevada and Washington.

Then there are the states that allow marijuana to be used for medical needs. On Tuesday, Missouri and Utah — Utah! — voted to join the club. That brings the total number of states that allow pot to be legally consumed in some circumstances to 33, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, plus Washington, D.C.

Pro-pot candidates also did well Tuesday. Illinois elected a governor, J.B. Pritzker, who favors allowing recreational cannabis. So did Connecticut (Ned Lamont), Maine (Janet Mills), Minnesota (Tim Walz) and New Mexico (Michelle Lujan Grisham). The winner in Wisconsin, Tony Evers, has said he is “not opposed” to it and would like a statewide referendum to settle the issue.

Read more: Michigan voters bring legal recreational marijuana to the Midwest »

Cannabis has already run away with the contest for public favor. In 2000, according to the Pew Research Center, only 31 percent of Americans supported legalizing recreational pot. Today, 62 percent do.

But even in states where cannabis is legal, it isn’t. Federal law still bans weed, with penalties that include prison time even for mere users. Sick people smoking it to relieve chronic pain, muscular dystrophy or epilepsy, in faithful compliance with their state laws, are not exempt from prosecution.

Under Barack Obama, the Justice Department adopted a hands-off policy toward states with permissive policies. Then-Attorney General Eric Holder issued directives instructing U.S. attorneys to defer to state laws on medical and recreational cannabis. The administration also tried to provide banks some assurance that they could handle the accounts of legitimate marijuana suppliers without being prosecuted.

But as soon as he was installed as attorney general, die-hard prohibitionist Jeff Sessions reversed course. He ordered prosecutors to fully enforce federal laws reflecting “Congress’ determination that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that marijuana activity is a serious crime.”

Does Congress really still believe that? This ought to be an issue on which the two parties can come together — not on whether marijuana should be legal but on whether states should be allowed to make their own choices. Last year, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky joined with Democratic colleagues Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York to propose ending the federal prohibition on medical cannabis.

The conservative Tenth Amendment Center regards the federal law as an unconstitutional usurpation of state sovereignty. It was Georgetown professor Randy Barnett, a darling of the conservative Federalist Society, who in 2004 argued before the Supreme Court that the federal government had no right to stop individuals from growing pot for personal use.

Commentary: The cycle of life: Getting stoned again for health reasons »

He lost the case, but the court’s most conservative justice agreed with him. “Our federalist system, properly understood, allows California and a growing number of other States to decide for themselves how to safeguard the health and welfare of their citizens,” Clarence Thomas wrote in his dissent. “If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything.”

Neither party is consistent on matters of federalism. But this is the rare occasion when Republicans could enlist Democrats in curbing Washington’s meddling in matters that can be handled perfectly well at the state level — deploying a concept that liberals might find attractive under President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Republicans might also gain politically from eliminating the federal role. Taking a more moderate position on a matter that millions of people regard as no business of politicians could soften their image among independent voters. Passing an important measure with bipartisan support would demonstrate that the 2018 election results didn’t prevent our lawmakers from getting anything useful done.

I can just imagine it happening. And no, I’m not high.

Steve Chapman, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board, blogs at www.chicagotribune.com/chapman.

[email protected]

Twitter @SteveChapman13

Mexico just took a big step toward marijuana legalization

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

Mexico just took a big step toward marijuana legalization

Mexico’s Supreme Court deemed the country’s marijuana prohibition law unconstitutional.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday deemed the country’s marijuana prohibition law unconstitutional, bringing America’s neighbor one step closer to marijuana legalization.

It was not the first time the court made such a ruling, but it was the fifth time — a crucial threshold in Mexico. Under the country’s legal system, once the Supreme Court reaches a similar decision in five separate cases, the standard set by the rulings applies to the country’s entire court system.

As the Associated Press explained, “The rulings technically do not legalize recreational use, however. They establish that courts must allow it, but it is still up to each individual to press his or her case in the judicial system.” The rulings apply to possession, use, and growing — not commercialization or sales.

The Supreme Court “found that adults have a fundamental right to personal development which lets them decide their recreational activities without interference from the state,” the AP reported. The right is not absolute, and it does not apply to all substances — but it does mean that total marijuana prohibition is unconstitutional.

Suprema Corte

@SCJN

Primera Sala reiteró inconstitucionalidad de la prohibición absoluta del consumo recreativo de marihuana. Lo que permitió integrar jurisprudencia sobre el tema.

Mexican lawmakers could react to the ruling by adjusting the law to regulate marijuana under the new legal framework set by the Supreme Court. Officials in President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government have indicated that they may legalize marijuana, Reuters reported.

If Mexico’s government follows through, the country could become the third in the world to legalize pot for recreational purposes — after Uruguay and Canada.

Although nine states in the US have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, pot is still illegal under federal law in America.

Supporters of legalization argue that it eliminates the harms of marijuana prohibition: the arrests over a relatively harmless drug (and the racial disparities involved in America), and the billions of dollars that flow from the black market for marijuana to drug cartels that then use the money for violent operations around the world. All of this, legalization advocates say, will outweigh any of the potential downsides — like increased cannabis use — that might come with legalization.

Opponents, meanwhile, claim that legalization will enable a huge marijuana industry that will market the drug irresponsibly. They point to countries’ experiences with the alcohol and tobacco industries, which have built their financial empires in large part on some of the heaviest consumers of their products. This could result in far more people using pot, even if it leads to negative health consequences.

At least in Mexico, the supporters won a big victory this week.

For more on marijuana legalization, read Vox’s explainer.

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