Happy 420 Day!
Today on April 20, millions of people from all walks of life are celebrating 420, aka “Weed Day,” with rallies and parties around the world in honor of marijuana.
The international holiday also is called “Weed O’Clock.” As the story goes, the numerals 420 derive from the time in the afternoon when a group of high school kids in the early 1970s got together to smoke pot.
There’s even an online clock for stoners that shows where it’s 4:20 in the world. If it’s not currently 4:20 somewhere, the clock shows a countdown to the next 4:20 and where it will occur.
It seems hard to believe, but a decade ago, no U.S. states allowed marijuana for adult (i.e., recreational) use. None!
Cannabis remains a federally banned Schedule I drug. However, new state-level actions bring the total to 21 states where cannabis that’s high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is legal for adult use, and 38 where high-THC cannabis is legal for medical use. THC is the psychoactive compound that produces the “buzz” for users.
Nearly half of the American population now has access to legal adult-use cannabis, and nearly three-quarters of Americans have access to legal medical cannabis in some form.
Nine-in-ten Americans say marijuana should be legal for medical or recreational use, according to the most recent Pew Research Center survey on the topic. Only a small minority say marijuana should remain completely illegal (see chart).
With another annual Weed Day upon us, let’s examine the latest state of the states, in regard to marijuana legalization in America. The political landscape keeps getting greener.
Washington, DC. A coalition of 85 civil rights and drug policy reform groups sent a letter to President Joe Biden and other key federal officials on April 6, leveraging the 420 holiday to urge the White House to push for the descheduling of cannabis. The letter was spearheaded by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) with other signatories such as the ACLU and Human Rights Watch.
In a separate national action also designed to coincide with 420 day, a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers refiled bills this week to legalize medical marijuana for military veterans.
Called the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, the bill would make it legal under federal law for military veterans to “use, possess, or transport medical marijuana” in state-legal systems. It also would allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations to their patients.
Colorado. The Colorado House of Representatives on April 16 approved legislation that would allow adults to buy marijuana online, a move to help dispensaries that depend on cash transactions. Because many canna-businesses don’t have access to banking services, many must rely on cash which in turn makes them vulnerable to crime. The bill now heads to the state Senate.
Michigan. State regulators announced this week that Michigan marijuana sales reached a record high in March, with nearly $250 million in combined recreational and medical cannabis purchases.
Most of the cannabis purchases came from “flower,” followed by vape cartridges and infused edibles, the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) data shows.
According to research firm New Frontier Data, marijuana flower is by far the most popular form among consumers, accounting for 44% of total cannabis sales last year in the United States.
Nevada. The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) will conduct a public hearing on April 24 to solicit public feedback on proposed revisions to NSAC regulations, including new language on cannabis policy.
The commission, which regulates unarmed combat sports within the state, recently voted unanimously to cease penalizing professional fighters for testing positive for marijuana. The NSAC is now moving to implement specific language to codify that policy.
New York. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced on April 18 that the state is launching a public education campaign to coincide with the 420 holiday to encourage adults to buy their marijuana from licensed dispensaries, to ensure that cannabis products are regulated and safe.
Gov. Hochul said the “Why Buy Legal New York” campaign is designed to “bolster the public health and safety of all New Yorkers,” and to reduce the state’s proliferating black market in cannabis.
Hochul added: “We are providing [consumers] with information they need to make informed decisions and enjoy cannabis responsibly.”
Editor’s Note: Over the past decade, the cannabis industry has evolved from an illicit back-alley affair, to a hyper-niche legal market, to a multi-billion-dollar mainstream consumer juggernaut. During the pandemic, cannabis was even classified by many states as an “essential business.”
Why the shakeup? And as an investor, what should your next move be?
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John Persinos is the editorial director of Investing Daily.