New Jersey In Spot Light As Congress Pushes Back Historic Marijuana Bill
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expunction Act, known as the MORE Act, will not be put before the House of Commons this week and is not expected to come to a vote before the end of the year. The bill would remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances and eliminate criminal records for marijuana. After gaining traction and gaining more than 100 co-sponsors, including Republicans, the initiative has become a victim of the campaign season. With the US presidential election behind them, important pro-cannabis laws are being heard and the industry is turning its attention to New Jersey, which has one of America's largest cannabis markets.
But there remains hope that major regulatory changes are on the horizon in the coming years, and some continue to hope for major changes in cannabis laws and regulations in New Jersey. In an online discussion about cannabis last week, Culver said Democrats were concerned about the potential impact of approving the Covid-19 aid. He played down those concerns, pointing out that the industry is creating jobs and providing the state with a much-needed source of tax revenue. The lobbying firm he spoke for added that politicians had a moral imperative to act, as studies showed blacks were disproportionately arrested for marijuana-related offenses.
Democrats have a majority in the House of Representatives to maintain in the next session, and the industry is watching closely to see if it can take control in November. Regardless, the main obstacle to such an initiative would be the Republican-controlled Senate.
According to the executive director of the New Jersey Cannabis Business Association, however, the law is not the only way to advance legalization.
Investors and cannabis executives say there is increasing talk of a domino effect in the Northeast following New Jersey's decision in November to pass an initiative legalizing recreational use. In a research note, last week cannabis analyst Vivien Azer said: "Recreational use [in New York] would more than enough serve as a catalyst for a domino effect. There is increasing talk of the "domino effects," as if there were a pandemic in the Northeast, where states must discourage cannabis users from crossing state lines and possibly spreading COVID 19.
If this were to happen, it would bring nearly half the US population to states where recreational use is legal. As a result, "the US market for cannabis would increase by about 6 billion dollars to a total of 40 billion dollars by 2025, and the company's turnover would increase by about 5 billion dollars over the next five years, increasing the company's turnover by about 4 billion to 10 billion dollars annually by 2020. He said legalization in neighboring states could take about two years, but said companies like Cannabidiol Inc. (NASDAQ: CBDI) and its parent company Cannabinoid Inc., would benefit.
In a research note dated September 18, Azer said in what he called support for legalization: "MORE bills are likely to pass the House of Representatives later this year. Although legalization would ultimately be good news for investors and businesses, it still has "catching up to do" in the US, said David Hawkins, research director of the Marijuana Policy Project. If legalization proceeds, although many cannabis companies remain small, he said, large pharmaceutical and tobacco companies could seize the opportunity to build their own businesses and take over the sector.
If that happens, "it could decimate the industry," he said in a telephone interview, according to the New Jersey Cannabis Business Journal.
At the same time, a more methodical march toward legalization could bolster the economy, he said. In a perfect world, it would be better for many companies to grow to be more attractive acquisition targets, "he said, according to the New Jersey Cannabis Business Journal.