The Good, The Bad And The Frustrating: Five Events That Moved Cannabis In 2022

Zinger Key Points
  • From Brittney Griner's Russia saga to Congress' lame-duck Christmas miracle that never happened.
  • Some cannabis companies rode out the year and prospered, others are licking their wounds but will surely spring back.

Like everything else in 2022, the cannabis industry had its ups and downs. Legalization efforts and reform were up (sort of) and cannabis stocks were down (definitively). 

Let’s look at what moved the needle for the cannabis industry this year and how things ended up for a plant so many love yet remains on a federal hit list.

In March, cannabis legalization became even more controversial once word got out that a famous athlete was detained at a Moscow airport for possessing such a minuscule amount of cannabis oil that one wonders how security agents even found it. After ten months in prison, Brittney Griner was swapped for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. She's home as of Dec. 9 and intends to get back onto the basketball court.  

Politics, Putin, Griner, Biden and the Ukraine invasion notwithstanding, many in the U.S., including famous athletes, celebs, influencers (including Elon Musk) and the rest of us are all wondering why the powers that be don't free pot-possessing prisoners in the U.S. with the same vehemence they exerted to do that in Russia? 

A somewhat unexpected though positive occurrence: President Biden’s October pardon of some 6,500 federal cannabis prisoners and a call for governors to do the same for pot offenders sitting in state prisons. A few governors heeded the call, including Oregon’s Kate Brown. Jared Polis of Colorado had already enacted mass pardons. PA, Kentucky, Illinois, Washington State, New Jersey, California, New York Illinois, Nevada and more are undertaking pardon and expungement programs as we speak.

Big news for several cannabis companies and the industry at large: Sean “Diddy” Combs announced he was acquiring certain cannabis assets in New York, Illinois and Massachusetts from Cresco Labs CRLBF and Columbia Care CCHWF. This created the largest minority-owned and operated, vertically integrated multi-state operator in the U.S. Tarik Brooks, president of Combs Enterprises called it a “historic day” in an exclusive interview with Benzinga. 

Another cannabis company made history in 2022: Canada-based Canopy Growth CGC announced it would streamline its entry into the U.S. market by acquiring Acreage Holdings ACRDF, Wana Brands and Jetty thus positioning itself for, and demonstrating confidence in eventual federal marijuana legalization. 

Sad cannabis story: In April it came out that Lorna McMurrey, 27, a cannabis worker at Trulieve’s TCNNF production facility in Massachusetts passed out on the job while grinding and packaging cannabis into prerolls and died shortly thereafter. Trulieve, that was found to have a string of regulatory violations, paid a small fine and received a slap on the wrist from OSHA. 

The much-anticipated and agonized over midterm elections: Three states legalized adult-use cannabis - Maryland, Missouri and Rhode Island. Others tried and were disappointed – Arkansas and North and South Dakota. Hopes were high that a good showing could fortify the case for legalizing weed at the federal level, ushering in national expungement that would no doubt do wonders for the country, the economy and our ghastly over-crowded prisons that hold at least 45,000 pot prisoners. 

Despite the electoral letdown, it's worth noting that national polling throughout the year has suggested that most Americans believe marijuana should be legal in some form and that banking options should be available to this burgeoning industry...and that includes the banks themselves

December's lame-duck Christmas miracle that flopped. After high hopes and many promises, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act was excluded from appropriations legislation that sought to tuck it into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is part of the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package for fiscal year 2023.

This did not sit well with cannabis advocates, cannabis companies, cannabis stocks, cannabis vendors forced to deal in all cash and just about everyone who enjoys the simple convenience of banking available to any other billion-dollar industry, which is what cannabis happens to be. Back to the drawing board in 2023.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year from all of us at Benzinga to all of you!

Photo: Benzinga Edit; Sources: RODNAE PRODUCTIONS, olia danilevich, EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA via Pexels, Shutterstock and Wikimedia Commons


Posted In: CannabisNewsPenny StocksPoliticsSmall CapMarketsGeneralBiden pardonBrittney GrinerCannabis BankingmidtermsPutinSean “Diddy” Combs

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