With the resignation/firing of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions as well as the legalization of marijuana in three states, the clear cut winner of the 2018 midterm elections is the marijuana industry.
As everyone is aware by now former AG Jeff Sessions resigned at the President’s request on November 7, 2018. While it is not clear what the next Attorney General’s position will be with regards to legalized marijuana, the industry believes that it will benefited from the change.
Following the 2018 midterm elections, three more states voted to legalize the use of marijuana in some form.
Michigan became the first Midwestern state to legalize recreational marijuana, and the 10th state overall to do so. Michigan voters passed Proposal 1 creating a system to regulate, tax and sell recreational marijuana to adults in the state.
As Canada’s neighbor, it became more practical for Michigan to legalize recreational use of marijuana after Canada legalized marijuana sales for adults in mid-October.
In Missouri, three marijuana-related initiatives were on the ballot. Each of them legalized growing, manufacturing, selling and consuming marijuana and marijuana products for medicinal use at the state level. The initiatives differed in terms of how they taxed marijuana and the freedom each gives potential home growers.
Missouri voters passed Amendment 2, which will tax marijuana sales at 4 percent, with the proceeds funding veterans health care programs. Amendment 2 was also the only proposal that allowed for home-growing of marijuana.
The conservative state of Utah became the 32nd state to legalize medical marijuana use when voters passed Proposition 2. More than 60 percent of the Utah’s 3 million residents are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which teaches its followers to stay away from alcohol, coffee, tobacco and illegal drugs.
The LDS church and proponents of Prop. 2 reached an agreement before the election that will amend the language to state that residents are banned from growing their own weed while trying to establish a state-run medical marijuana distribution network. Smoking marijuana will likely remain illegal, but sick people could be able to eat cannabis-infused foods or use vape pens.
Not all good news for the marijuana industry as North Dakota residents struck down Measure 3. The very permissive proposed Measure 3 would have allowed all residents 21 and over to grow, consume and possess as much weed as they want, without any government oversight. It would also have created penalties for those under 21 who grow, consume, and possess marijuana. And it would have expunged previous marijuana convictions from criminal records. But the measure did not include any language regarding regulations and taxes. The fact that such a law was on the ballot strongly suggest that a less permissive law will likely pass at some point.
After the these laws were passed by their respective states and after the removal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, shares of cannabis companies traded broadly, and in many cases sharply higher Wednesday. Jeff Sessions resignation, coupled with a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, could prove a boon for the pot industry in the U.S. It was Sessions who rescinded an Obama-era policy used as protection for states that have legalized marijuana. The U.S. midterm elections are likely to usher in a green wave in the marijuana industry as there are now 10 states and the District of Columbia who have legalized marijuana for recreational use and thirty two (32) states which have legalized medical marijuana.