Cannabis stocks boomed — finally — on news that the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill, on a 24-10 vote, that would legalize marijuana at the federal level by removing it from schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act.
There are still some hoops to jump through as the markup of the bill now moves to the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, where it has an excellent chance of being passed. It would then move on to the much tougher Republican-controlled Senate, which is headed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a staunch opponent of marijuana legalization. However, McConnell, R-Ky., did play a big part in getting hemp legalized for growing under the latest farm bill in December 2018.
The news of even a chance of legalization sent cannabis stocks soaring. Around 1:15 p.m. EDT, market leader Canopy Growth Corp. (CGC) was up 18.2% to $18.09 in the New York Stock Exchange, while it’s counterpart (WEED) on the Canadian Securities Exchange was up 15.2% to $23.38.
Aurora Cannabis also was up big, 14.3% to $2.67 a share. Tilray (TLRY) ticked higher by 5% to $20.98, Aprhia Inc. (APHA) was up 5.8% to an even $4.56 and Cronos (CRON) saw a bump up 4.1% to $6.97.
Under the new legislation, states would enforce their own policies and there would be incentives to throw out criminal records of individuals who had committed low-level marijuana offenses. Legislators have also added a 5% tax on all cannabis products that would be used to help people who have been affected the most by the war on drugs.
Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argued it was about time for legalization while presenting the markup of the bill.
“The criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake,” Nadler said, according to CNBC. “The racial disparity in marijuana enforcement laws only compounded this mistake with serious consequences, particularly for minority communities.”
The bill is already getting some push back from Republicans, though. Colorado Rep. Ken Buck thinks the bill goes too far, and it won’t have a chance in the Senate.
“I don’t think a majority of the Republicans will support this bill,” Buck said. “It is even less likely that the Senate would take it up. Therefore, I would just suggest that we deal with other bills that we can get much larger bipartisan support from.”
So far 11 states, including the District of Columbia, have legalized cannabis for recreational use.
In other cannabis news, the Boston City Council approved an ordinance to overhaul its marijuana licensing process to boost involvement by minority entrepreneurs entering the growing business.
Full disclosure: The author of this piece holds no positions in any cannabis stocks.
For our friends: Former Speaker of the House John Boehner reveals why he’s going all in on cannabis. Click here to learn more and decide if cannabis investments would be a good addition to your portfolio.