As the dust settles from the American midterm elections on Tuesday, November 6, there have been some big changes that will no doubt have a lasting impact on the country’s cannabis policy, including 3 more states legalizing cannabis in some form.
Michigan voted to legalize medical and recreational cannabis, while Utah and Missouri will soon allow medical cannabis sales. That means, in total in the USA, recreational cannabis is set to be legal in 10 states and medical cannabis will be available in 33 states (plus Washington, D.C.).
There was even more great news for cannabis on Wednesday, the day after the midterms, when Attorney General Jeff “Good people don’t smoke marijuana” Sessions resigned, or as his resignation letter stated:
“Dear Mr President,
At your request, I am submitting my resignation.”
Don’t let the door hit you on your way out, Jeff.
Sessions was viewed by the cannabis industry as a major obstacle in the push for federal cannabis reform given his decades of vocal opposition to cannabis, and earlier this year, Sessions rescinded the Obama-era Cole Memorandum which meant that the federal government adopted a hands-off approach to states that had legalized cannabis, despite it still being illegal at the federal level.
Here’s hoping that the next Attorney General reinstates the Cole Memo- it’s the least they could do to ease some of the uncertainty that swirls around the industry- and ideally they’d consider taking cannabis out of Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, especially since 66% of the states have legalized cannabis for medical use.
There was evidence that Sessions was waging a one-man war against cannabis, as even President Trump (who doesn’t smoke or drink) didn’t seem to share his Attorney General’s hatred of the herb. Trump even indicated in back in June that he’d “probably” support the STATES Act, a bipartisan bill that would allow banks to work with cannabis businesses in states where it was legal, something that is currently prohibited under the Controlled Substances Act.
Cannabis stocks soar
The news of Sessions’ resignation, a staunch anti-cannabis zealot that the Drug Policy Alliance deemed a “drug war dinosaur”, had the cannabis industry celebrating, which sent cannabis stocks soaring in the wake of the bombshell announcement yesterday afternoon.
As Russell Stanley, managing director of equity research at Beacon Securities Ltd., told the Financial Post:
“The entire space is now rallying on the Sessions news.
The [cannabis] industry viewed Sessions as a major obstacle to cannabis legalization and so this risk has now been removed — the industry, especially companies that derive bigger operational benefits from the U.S., are responding to that.”
Wednesday’s biggest winner was the Canadian LP Tilray, with shares jumping almost 30% on the Nasdaq. Other companies like MedMen, Canopy Growth Corp, and Aurora Cannabis all saw gains of around 7%, while Aphria also got a 5% boost.