Pot Still Depends On The People

Written by Adam English
Posted May 21, 2019

2019 was supposed to be another breakout year.

The marijuana sector has grown by leaps and bounds after election years — both presidential and midterm — since its earliest days.

And following the wave of new Democrats moving into state houses, a wave of new legalization was universally expected.

The big three were New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. Population and potential business-wise, these would be powerhouse states.

Since then? A whole bunch of in-party squabbling over a lot that shouldn’t be tied to legalization has brought legalization efforts to a standstill.

Meanwhile, there has been progress in states where, just a couple years ago, the topic would seem to be dead on arrival.

Think Texas, which has seen bills advance in the Texas House of Representatives to expand medical marijuana programs and reduce sentencing for illegal possession, and Alabama, whose Senate approved a medical use bill.

Wasting Time And Opportunities

So what gives with the Democrats? Unfortunately, a lot of the same that we’re seeing in every other facet of legislation.

They aren’t willing to address issues on a case-by-case basis. Instead, large-scale social reform issues are creating poison pills for what should be a relatively simple affair.

For those who aren’t in the know, we’re based out of Baltimore. There are few places in the country that can match this city’s painful and shameful history of racial and social issues.

From redlining, to white flight, to chronic underinvestment from the rich suburbs. From stop-and-frisk, to cops who rob drug dealers then sell the drugs themselves, to a political machine that rivals Tammany Hall.

We’ve got it all. We’re basically on the front line of the fight against perpetual disparity.

These issues are critical to address for the sake of our city and larger society, but they shouldn’t be rolled into every other topic they tangentially touch.

If every bill that passes needs to be a panacea for society's ills, nothing will ever pass.

This isn’t a “one and done” issue either. Laws regarding business licensing and regulations are tweaked all the time. Other states have had no problems decriminalizing possession or expunging prior related arrests after legalization.

Or at least they used to. This new wave of Democrats has clearly forgotten that.

Clocks are running out on legislative sessions, and with another painfully acrimonious presidential election coming up, it is very likely we’ll see nothing but posturing and legislative inaction for the next year and a half.

What To Do?

So where could the overwhelming majority of people who support medical use, and the large majority who support recreational use, turn if their elected officials fail them?

They should look back to earlier days. Back when the legalization movement gained traction, it was through the use of referendums. Of the 10 states with full legalization, only Vermont passed it through the legislative process.

These movements effectively and decisively gave legislators no choice but to acquiesce to the will of the people.

By using referendums, they effectively removed partisan party politics from the equation and presented a clear "yes or no" choice on a single topic.

It is time for people in states like New York, New Jersey, and Illinois — where the fight over marijuana legislation is about everything BUT marijuana legalization — to do it themselves.

Thankfully, for the existing companies in the sector, and us as investors in them, we don’t have to be concerned.

There was a day when this would send share prices on a downward spiral. Sure, the expansion of market share these three states could represent would be great to have as soon as possible.

But the industry is already huge and rapidly maturing. A wave of consolidation is paying out hefty premiums on top of hefty gains to early investors, and it is only going to accelerate the trends in place.

The only people suffering from this inaction are those who want their voices to be heard. For their sake, let’s hope they use the tried-and-true legalization path.

Take care,

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Adam English

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Adam's editorial talents and analysis drew the attention of senior editors at Outsider Club, which he joined in mid-2012. While he has acquired years of hands-on experience in the editorial room by working side by side with ex-brokers, options floor traders, and financial advisors, he is acutely aware of the challenges faced by retail investors after starting at the ground floor in the financial publishing field. For more on Adam, check out his editor's page

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