In slightly less than a week, the United States will be holding their mid term elections. If you’re not familiar because you don’t own a television and haven’t been subjected to the barrage of terribly narrated commercials, the mid terms are the election between presidential elections where most of seats in the legislative party are voted upon. This year, all 435 members of the House of Representatives, 35 Senate seats (out of 100) and 36 state governors (out of 50 this time). All states will have other local elections on the ballot as where, anything from local sheriffs to state wide referendums.
But we’re not going to focus on that for now. We’re going to look North, instead, to the land of loonies and excessive apologizing. We’re focused on what happened in Canada almost two weeks ago when, on October 17th the nation legalized the recreational use of marijuana at a federal level.
Regardless of how you might feel about that personally, it’s clear that a society that somewhat closely mirrors ours felt strongly enough about this to put the political infrastructure in place to make it happen. Canada’s decision, which is also on deck in Mexico as well, can only be seen as a precursor for what’s about to come in the United States.
And that’s not just my opinion. Currently, weed is legal for recreational use in nine of the fifty states (and Washington DC). For medicall use, it’s legal in 31 states plus several territories. Those statewide referendums we talked about earlier in that dry political part, yeah, you guessed it, many of the states who haven’t gone full legal will be reconsidering the plant’s legality.
So, it seems like it’s a matter of if, and not when, the US follows the lead of its neighbor to the north and lifts restrictions totally. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, is putting forward a bi-partisan bill with Senator Elizabeth Warren to try to make such a thing happen. You’ll notice I marked a certain word in italics there. That’s right, a Republican is working to take the lead on moving this forward. This has long been an issue championed by the Democratic Party, which very much fits into the bipartisan aspect of the bill. It’s no surprise to see Warren as a champion for this issue given her standing in the democratic party. But again, a Republican is a different issue. Typically, at least in the United States, parties don’t tend to flip back and forth on two sided social issues. If you need any proof of that, look at the arenas of abortions or gun control. So the question, of course, when something like this happens, is why?
At first glance, Gardner’s rationale seems simple. He’s from Colorado, a state where legalization generated over 1.5 billion in taxable revenue in 2017. And that revenue has seemingly come with little serious downside. Well, at least that you can prove. Driving while high can be a little tricky, but is getting more accurate. If you look at the US stock market, pot stocks have seen a huge run up and are making a lot of investors (myself included) very pleased with the overall outlook of the market. More on that later.
And now Gardner and Warren seem set to work across the aisle to bring this issue to the hands of the President. And this is the part where, as you might have guessed, I find the entire situation to be very compelling. Nation wide decriminalization in this country is a matter of it, not when. We’ve established that. And that is the big question to figure out now. When?
There’s a wide range of opinions out there, with estimates ranging from 2019 to never happening. My personal take is that this is going to be one of the primary issues in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. It’s a given that the Democratic party is going to be pushing this hard with the recent events in Canada, and if Warren gets the nod as the nominee for the party you can bet she’s going to be pushing her bill with gusto.
It makes sense, in a recent study performed by the Pew Research Center, about six in ten Americans support legalization, with a whopping 69 percent of Democrats agreeing with that sentiment.
But the are a few numbers in that study that I find even more interesting – namely that a mere 51 percent of Republicans are opposed to the idea. A staggering 59 percent of right leaning independents are in the same boat. Hell, 54 percent of baby boomers are there too. No matter how you slice it, regardless of the group, it’s a coin flip at worst on the party that’s supposed to be opposed.
One more important stat to note: the states that we mentioned earlier that are considering making changes to the legal status of marijuana? All seven of them that have a decision to make before the 2020 election went for Trump in the last election. Two of them, Missouri and Ohio, are widely considered two of the most important swing states that a candidate can rarely afford to lose.
Which gives me the feeling that, like many of the issues he ran on in 2016, it’s only a matter of time until Trump makes his move to try to make this idea. I think that next year, in the run up to the election, we’ll see him start to bring up this idea in order to get out in front of it. It’s a good hedge, and unless Warren wins and runs, there’s a chance that it’ll work. He’s shown before that if there’s a tool he can use to win, he’s going to use it, regardless of how many feathers it ruffles. I predict this will be no different.
Either way, Trump is the big hurdle here. If he loses, I would imagine the Democrats would want to push this through to solidify their hold over the hearts and minds of a generation of younger voters. that leads me to believe that we’re looking at somewhere between 2021 and 2023 as a target year, so I’ll get my official prediction on the books for fall of 2022 with the announcement coming somewhere in the summer of 2021.
What does that mean for you? Well, in 2015 (three years before the announced date of legalization in Canada), shares of the leading Canadian Marijuana firms were trading at 1.60 (Symbol: CGC), 0.93 (Symbol: APHA), and 0.55 (Symbol: ACBFF) dollars per share respectively. Their current prices? 33.97, 10.13, and 8.69, again, respectively. I’ll let you do the math on the percentages (hint: it’s a lot). And that’s after a bloodbath that’s seen the prices of the shares drop in excess of 33 percent since people started selling their shares and taking profits on the day of legalization.
Or, hell, maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time. There’s a chance that neither candidate embraces weed, it continues to be federally legal, and you’re sitting on some losses. That’s not a bet I’m going to make.