Happy Friday everyone, this is Richard Lowe your managing editor at The National Marijuana News. I have 5 summaries for you on the week’s top cannabis news stories. 2019 has been a whirlwind already for the cannabis industry with more state lawmakers talking about weed than ever before. For marijuana legalization advocates, this is really everything you could have hoped for by making cannabis a top political issue. Texas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and other states have made cannabis reform a major part of their first legislative session of 2019.
EU Parliament Votes to Reschedule Marijuana
Let’s start though with the international marijuana industry. This week the European Union Parliament decided to follow the World Health Organization’s advice and reschedule marijuana. Now, the EU is different than the U.S. Unlike the United States where if our federal government elected to reschedule marijuana, banks and merchant services could freely start allowing electronic transactions with marijuana businesses within our banking system and interstate commerce of cannabis products would be allowed legally, the EU is basically making a suggestion. They will not have a problem with countries that makeup the European Zone working together with cannabis products, but each country needs to now decide how they are going approach marijuana. It is likely going to open many doors for research on cannabis around Europe and we should see many countries embrace marijuana reform like never before. For Canadian cannabis producers like Aurora Cannabis (NYSE: ACB), which we interviewed Marc Lakmaaker, the VP of IR at Aurora last week (See Video Below), and Canopy Growth Corporation (NTSE: CGC), their export business should ramp up considerably.
32 Marijuana Reform Bills Already Introduced in Texas in 2019
Let’s come back to the U.S. The story that really caught my attention this week came out of Texas. In the first legislative session of 2019, 32 marijuana reform bills have been introduced by Texas lawmakers so far with more to come supposedly. That is a record. Texas has never had so much focus on cannabis legalization as they do right now and if Texas is going to embrace marijuana reform then the rest of this country should be ready for it as well. The bills introduced in Texas range from loosening up their medical marijuana laws to reducing sentencing for marijuana possession. Currently Texas has a very restrictive medical marijuana program limited to patients suffering from epilepsy and other severe conditions. A man nicknamed “Gramps” has been posting videos for years in Texas advocating for medical marijuana after his son passed away from a severe seizure that he believes could have been prevented if his son had access to medical cannabis. You can track the progress of all of these Texas marijuana reform bills on the Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy site by clicking here.
Georgia Lawmakers Working on a Bill That Would Allow Medical Marijuana Patients to Buy It
Turning to Georgia, a new measure was introduced in the House of Representatives that would actually allow medical marijuana patients to purchase medical marijuana. If you are unfamiliar, Georgia lawmakers passed a medical marijuana law in 2015 that legalized the use of medical marijuana oil concentrates to patients with 16 debilitating conditions including cancer and epilepsy. It did not however legalize the growing of marijuana, the processing of marijuana into concentrates or the sale of medical marijuana. In other words, it did absolutely nothing. Patients are not making their own cannabis oil to vaporize at home without risking blowing themselves up. It would have been illegal for them to do that anyways. If the new bill was to pass and be signed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, which is a big if, it would allow the growing, production and sale of cannabis oil to the patients that already qualify for medical marijuana.
Florida House Health and Human Services Committee Suggests Allowing Pre-rolled Joints
Now, back to Florida. I keep bringing Florida up because it is projected to be one of the largest marijuana markets in the country and its legislature has just made a mess out of it. Despite having an expensive and restricted medical marijuana program that started collecting patients in 2017, Florida now has more than 200,000 patients and the industry is worth nearly $6 billion. As of now, there is a ban on smoking medical marijuana and the state has refused to implement rules for edibles. But, the Florida House Health and Human Services committee passed legislation this week in a first step that would allow patients to purchase pre-rolled marijuana joints for smoking. Voters also elected Nikki Fried, who we interviewed before the November midterm elections (See Video Below), to the Agricultural Commissioner position in November and she is a strong support of marijuana legalization. She is pushing hard to get rules implemented for edibles. The Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, gave the state legislature an ultimatum shortly after taking office telling lawmakers to make smokable marijuana available to patients or he would pull the state’s appeal on a judge’s decision that the ban on smoking marijuana is unconstitutional. He still may not feel like what the legislature is suggesting is enough, but some form of marijuana for smoking could be available in Florida soon.
The Largest Pension Fund in the United States Increases its Marijuana Stock Holdings
Want a sure sign that marijuana is becoming more acceptable and is here to stay? Look no further than the equity markets. To say that pension funds are risk averse would be a stretch, just look at how they did during the 2008 crash, but pension fund managers are real particular about at least maintaining the image of being conservative. The idea of buying shares of a business involved in a controlled substance like marijuana would not have been something they would have even considered at one point. According to a form filed with the SEC, CalPERS, the largests pension fund in the United States, just increased its holdings of marijuana companies like Tilray (TLRY) and Constellation Brands (STZ) which is a major investor into Canopy Growth Corporation (CGC). The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, is likely noticing the incredible jumps in revenue these Canadian based cannabis companies are reporting in their recently released earnings’ reports which is attributable to Canada legalizing recreational marijuana last October. Expectations are that demand for cannabis will continue to climb especially in Europe which many of these Canadian companies hold exporting contracts with.
That’s it for this week everyone. Remember to follow our Youtube channel, The National Marijuana News, along with our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages @NationalMJNews. I hope everyone enjoys the weekend.