The 2018 midterm elections left the U.S. with a Republican Senate, a Democratic House and three states with legalized cannabis.
Michigan voted to legalize recreational marijuana, becoming the first state in the Midwest to do so, while Missouri and Utah passed ballot measures to allow the use of medical pot.
Here's what experts are saying now that the votes have been counted.
International Cannabrands Inc GEATF CEO Steve Gormley said a win for cannabis initiatives is a win for civil rights, job creation and people with illnesses best treated with cannabis products.
"The U.S. electorate continues to push a pro-cannabis agenda and common sense marijuana regulation.”
Terra Tech Corp TRTC CEO Derek Peterson said cannabis is becoming a platform issue for lawmakers.
"The economic, social and medical impacts are significant, and constituents are starting to make their voice heard. Cannabis and hemp legalization is being discussed on both sides of the aisle, and more and more political leaders who support the industry are gaining seats in Congress.”
Michigan A Major 'Domino' To Fall In Legalization
For Chris Walsh, founding editor and vice president of Marijuana Business Daily, Nov. 6 was a watershed moment.
Michigan is going to be a "massive" market and potentially the second-largest marijuana market nationwide once the recreational system is up and running, Walsh said.
He ascribes this to the state's population size, proximity to other population centers like Chicago and the attitude of the Great Lakes States' residents toward weed.
"The fact that Michigan legalized, and overwhelmingly so, is another sign that the dominoes are going to fall across the country in the coming years."
Spinner Grow COO David Baetens said he and his Detroit business are optimistic about Michigan's future with cannabis.
"The cannabis market in Michigan is expected to be $755 million by 2020, but that doesn't even include ancillary businesses like ours.”
Red States Light Up
One of the big surprises in the election was the legalization of medical cannabis in Utah.
“One of the reddest states out there voting to legalize medical marijuana shows, yet again, that on the medical side, this issue is not relegated to one party or the other," said Marijuana Business Daily's Walsh.
"The support is strong, and when you have a state like Utah legalize, it shows how far we've come in so short of a time."
Walsh expects nearly every state in the country to follow suit in the next four to five years.
"All across the country, there's really no region left where there's a state that hasn't done it. You've got it in the South, the Midwest, the coasts."
North Dakota voters declined to legalize recreational cannabis, a decision Walsh said was not unexpected.
"It was too soon after the medical marijuana measure, so the population really is still unfamiliar with cannabis legalization in any form ... give it a couple years when the people there see how medical marijuana works under a regulated market and they'll probably be OK voting in recreational marijuana."
Drug Remains Federally Illegal
What does this mean for cannabis on the federal level, where the plant still remains illegal and a Schedule I substance under the DEA’s Controlled Substances Act?
The success rate of legalization measures bodes well for action at the federal level, as does the new Democratic majority in the House, Walsh said.
Biome Grow CEO Khurram Malik said President Donald Trump could pivot on the issue as a means of courting younger and emerging voters or as part of his campaign for re-election in 2020.
"Legalization of recreational cannabis could cause him to lose some of his base, [but] the president doesn’t have an ideology beyond self-preservation and getting re-elected, and if the math makes sense, he may drop strong hints on the campaign trail that the legalization of recreational cannabis at the federal level will happen if he wins in 2020."
MassRoots Inc MSRT CEO Isaac Dietrich said it's increasingly likely Congress could take action to federally regulate and tax cannabis.
"We expect the perceived risks related to the cannabis industry to continue to dissipate, which could lead to a shift of institutional capital and interest from Canadian licensed producers to companies focused on the regulated United States market.”
Photo by Javier Hasse.
© 2022 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
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