Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Federally Legal Weed: Are The Stars Aligning? Will The Dems And GOP Meet In The Middle?

Can these leading Senate Democrats afford to come out empty-handed after bringing so much attention to their reform proposals?

By Maureen Meehan

Cannabis stocks went into a tizzy, in a good way, on Thursday’s blockbuster news that the House of Representatives will call a vote next week on the MORE Act (Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement), which seeks to remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances and promote social equity in the industry.

Then, within hours came more news: the Senate unanimously approved a bipartisan bill promoting cannabis research. The latter didn’t quite get the shouts and murmurs nor cause cannabis stocks to go wild, but, as one researcher put it, “Cannabis contains a galaxy of unexplored compounds…that may well transform our understanding of plant medicine and human biology.” So, yes, legalizing cannabis research was another piece of huge news.

marijuana nug
Photo by Kirill Vasikev / EyeEm/Getty Images

What About Cannabis Stocks?

Doubtless, cannabis legalization in the U.S. would be a huge milestone for cannabis stocks, especially in view of the slow but sad drop over the past year, due largely to dashed hopes over the progress, or lack thereof, regarding U.S. federal legalization.

RELATED: US Senate Green-Lights Bipartisan Marijuana Research Bill Ahead Of House Legalization Vote

And though nothing is official just yet, the suggestion that cannabis legalization is being discussed at the highest levels of government has encouraged investors and has kept cannabis stocks continuing to respond positively.

What’s Next?

Cantor Fitzgerald’s analyst Pablo Zuanic said he assumes the MORE bill’s main sponsor Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has been in touch with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who is expected to file his own bill (the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act) on April 20. CAOA is a broader reform bill than the SAFE Act that would allow for interstate cannabis commerce across the US.

RELATED: Federal Cannabis Legalization Bill Could Get Floor Vote In House, Sooner Than Later

“Both bills, or an eventual joint version, in our view, will at least allow Democrats to claim they are doing their very best to pass comprehensive cannabis reform. The conventional wisdom view is that neither Bill has the votes in the Senate to pass (based on what we know at this moment, we agree with that sentiment),” Zuanic said. “But as Rep. Perlmutter (sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act) told us recently ‘the stars are aligning.'”

Can The Dems Pull It Off?

Can these leading Senate Democrats afford to come out empty-handed after bringing so much attention to their reform proposals?

Zuanic says that the SAFE Banking Act could be more than just “face-saving” for the Democrats.

marijuana legalization
Photo by RODNAE Productions via Pexels

“SAFE passage could be an honorable start, and provide a realistic spark for future broader more comprehensive reform. Supposedly, SAFE (in its current version) has more than 60 votes in the Senate. It will all come down to Sen Majority Leader Schumer: do nothing this term (in terms of getting actual MJ legislation passed), or tweak Rep Perlmutter’s Bill.”

Clearly, getting even one of these bills passed by the Senate is the challenge.

Benzinga’s View

It might behoove the potential naysayers in the Senate to give the situation some real, non-partisan thought as it would make sense to recognize that a vast majority — fully 68% — of their own constituents indeed want cannabis legalized, regulated and fairly taxed.

“Today, voters of every age and in virtually every region of the country agree that marijuana should be legal,” said NORML’s former executive director Erik Altieri. “We have a mandate from the American people and we intend to make sure that elected officials abide by it.”

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.


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