The historic news that US President Joe Biden will pardon people charged federally with cannabis possession brought quick reactions from the industry.
It was a historic week for the cannabis industry as US President Joe Biden confirmed he will be pardoning everyone charged federally with cannabis possession, hinting that larger policy changes are to come.
Meanwhile, several US operators shared updates and a leading Canadian producer issued a financial report.
Keep reading to find out more cannabis highlights from the past five days.
Biden announcement ushers in new era of cannabis policy
Biden's official pardon for all of those with federal offenses for cannabis possession came this past Thursday (October 7), and thanks to the announcement he has been able to keep a campaign promise.
“No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” said Biden, encouraging states to follow with their own pardons.
“Sending people to jail for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives — for conduct that is legal in many states. That’s before you address the clear racial disparities around prosecution and conviction. Today, we begin to right these wrongs.”
As I’ve said before, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana.— President Biden (@POTUS) October 6, 2022
Today, I’m taking steps to end our failed approach. Allow me to lay them out.
The announcement from the president comes with a larger task of reviewing how cannabis is scheduled at the federal level in the US. This will be done by the Department of Health and Human Services, along with Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“The process will take some time because it must be based on a careful consideration of all of the available evidence, including scientific and medical information that’s available,” an unnamed senior White House official told CNN.
The announcement caused an uproar of enthusiasm in the market given the clear signaling of further changes to come.
The industry has been eager to see more action at the federal level in the US, whether it be through reform to banking rules or more sweeping federal allowances that would bring policies in line with state rules.
In a statement, Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said that while this is a momentous time for cannabis, Biden must still go further. The expert urged the president to support the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act in order to fully remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
“Keeping marijuana on the federal drug schedule will mean people will continue to face criminal charges for marijuana,” Frederique said. “It also means that research will continue to be inhibited and state-level markets will be at odds with federal law.”
Aaron Smith, co-founder and CEO of the National Cannabis Industry Association, agreed with Frederique’s call for more action from Biden with the ultimate goal being to remove cannabis from the CSA.
“We commend this important and necessary step to begin the process of repairing the harms of prohibition and look forward to working with Congress and the administration to develop policies that would ultimately solve the underlying problems in our outdated cannabis policies,” Smith said in a statement.
The cannabis stock market was rewarded with a moment of celebration, with companies' share prices largely reacting positively to Biden's pardon, as well as the promise of more things to come.
In an emailed statement, Nawan Butt, manager of the Medical Cannabis and Wellness UCITS ETF (LSE:CBDX), said the recognition that Biden will take more action on cannabis sparked a “violent reaction” in the cannabis stock universe.
“This action opens the door for federal decriminalization as well as encourages near term business friendly reform which could potentially result in the second bull market in US cannabis,” added Butt, who is also a portfolio manager with Purpose Investments.
On Thursday, the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index (TSX:HMMJ) jumped nearly 14 percent in valuation. The fund tracks some of the biggest names in the cannabis industry by valuation.
For its part, the AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF (ARCA:MSOS), which exclusively tracks US cannabis operators, had soared by 33.41 percent at the end of the Thursday trading session.
Cannabis company news
- Akanda (NASDAQ:AKAN)received a letter from regulators at the Nasdaq Stock Market indicating that the company is not in compliance with the minimum bid price requirement of US$1 per share. Akanda now has until March 27, 2023, to regain its compliance by having a share price higher than US$1 for at least 10 days in a row.
- Green Thumb Industries (CSE:GTII,OTCQX:GTBIF)confirmed a shake-up to its board of directors. Financial executive Richard Drexler will step into the role of audit committee chair following the recent resignation of three active members due to differences in ideology.
- Curaleaf Holdings (CSE:CURA,OTCQX:CURLF)completed its acquisition of privately held cannabis operator Tryke Companies, which has 144 dispensaries and 29 cultivation sites. The deal was completed for total consideration of US$181 million in cash and shares.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
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