Red, White and Green: Pot in the Roaring 2020s
Cannabis prohibition is no longer tenable. Banning pot in the 2020s makes as much sense as the prohibition of alcohol during the 1920s.
Marijuana remains banned at the federal level, and yet the United States is home to the largest number of marijuana users in the world. According to the latest estimates from New Frontier Data, more than 45 million Americans use cannabis every year.
New Frontier Data found that the multi-year wave of state-level normalization of marijuana makes the U.S. the world’s biggest legal cannabis market by a wide margin, generating over $25 billion in regulated sales in 2021.
Legal cannabis sales in the U.S. are expected to surpass $30 billion in 2022. Every time a state legalizes weed, it creates new markets, new customers, new jobs, and new investment opportunities.
Think you’ve missed the boat on marijuana profits? Not by a long shot. Let’s see what lays ahead for state-level legalization in 2022.
States on the Cusp
The November 2022 midterm elections in the U.S. already are shaping up to be bitterly fought, with marijuana legalization as a pivotal issue. Efforts to lift the federal ban in Congress have stalled, as political polarization and the Russia-Ukraine war distract from these efforts. But the states are stepping into the breach.
This year, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Ohio are on track to expand adult-use (i.e., recreational) programs, and Texas seeks to expand its medical-use program.
Delaware: This state already boasts an entrenched medical marijuana program. The House Health and Human Development committee in January approved a bill for adult-use legalization which now awaits a full floor vote. Governor John Carney (D) has been sitting on the fence, neither advocating legalization nor threatening a veto if the bill reaches his desk.
Florida: Polls show that a majority of residents in the Sunshine State favor adult-use legalization on a bipartisan basis (Democrats 76%, and Republicans 64%). Efforts are underway to get legalization on the November ballot, but Governor Ron DeSantis (R), a social conservative, is vehemently opposed.
Maryland: The Maryland General Assembly is considering various adult-use cannabis proposals this year. That said, support among polled residents decreased slightly (from 67% to 60%) between March and October 2021, according to a Goucher College survey.
Minnesota: Recreational marijuana was technically legalized in May 2021, but the measure lost momentum when the legislative session ended two days later. Lawmakers are currently trying to revive it, and Governor Timothy Walz (D) has set aside funding for legalization in his annual budget request.
New Hampshire: State representatives voted in January to legalize possession and home cultivation, but without retail sales. However, efforts are intensifying in the Granite State to push through a sweeping program to legalize retail sales and cultivation, and success appears to be at hand.
Ohio: The Buckeye State sports one of the nation’s most comprehensive medical cannabis programs. An adult-use measure is now poised to make it to the state’s November ballot, with robust voter support. Other reform measures are under debate, including a Republican-backed adult-use bill.
Texas: The state’s Compassionate Use Program limits medical cannabis to low-dose tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) containing no more than 1% THC by weight. Advocates seek to expand the medical-use program. The state’s registry of about 3,500 patients increased by 46% in 2021, even though only two Austin-area dispensaries exist throughout this large, populous state.
Texas is the biggest state that has yet to approve a full medical market. With a population of nearly 30 million, the state could evolve into the country’s largest legal medical marijuana market.
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John Persinos is the editor-in-chief of Marijuana Investing Daily.