The future of cannabis is looking bright.
In the last two months of 2018, the cannabis industry overcame significant obstacles in the path towards de-scheduling and legalization. Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas, who consistently placed himself in the way of any type of cannabis legislation since 2003, was defeated for re-election by Democratic challenger Colin Allred in November. Anti-cannabis Attorney General Jeff Sessions was removed from office several weeks ago. Most recently the Farm Bill passed in both houses of Congress, pushed through by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. When signed by President Trump, the Farm Bill will legalize hemp federally.
I reached out to three cannabis industry executives between the holiday madness to ask them how they’re feeling about cannabis rescheduling and legalization on the horizon. This is what they had to tell me:
“If the recent explosion in popularity of hemp-derived CBD is any indication, the zeitgeist of cannabis seems to be trending beyond mere tolerance to overall acceptance. Those previously dissuaded by the archaic Reefer Madness propaganda are experiencing a change in perception due to mounting scientific and practical evidence suggesting positive applications for cannabis. When the 2018 Farm Bill passes, the legality of hemp (cannabis with THC concentration below 0.3%) will be confirmed in the United States.
Taking this into consideration, and as cannabis and particularly hemp products become continually more accessible worldwide, it is only a matter of time before the optics of cannabis is changed resolutely from back-alley-indulgence to a serious resource for supplementing a health-forward lifestyle. As perceptions change for the better, more legislation favoring accessibility to high quality cannabis products should follow. Regarding bad actors who up to this point have been able to exploit a gray market, flourishing competition should inevitably weed them out.”
— Dylan Summers, Director of Government Affairs at Lazarus Naturals, an industrial hemp company aiming to be the best and most accessible CBD company on the market.
“U.S. legalization of cannabis is not a matter of “if,” but rather “when,” now that we have achieved critical mass of 33 states allowing medical cannabis and 10 approving some form of adult recreational use. Every day more sophisticated money managers are committing millions of capital to building large cannabis companies in the U.S. Our federal elected officials recognize that the investment community and a majority of their constituents now support medical cannabis. While cannabis taxes and investments and winning voter support are attractive for federal officials, they want to have the validation of positive results, and more importantly, no negative results from state legalization before proceeding with full federal legalization. Therefore, I anticipate full U.S. legalization will occur in three to five years.”
— Robert Fireman, CEO of MariMed, Inc. (OTCQB: MRMD), is a multi-state cannabis organization that develops, owns and manages cannabis facilities and manufactures, licenses and distributes top brands and innovative products
“One of our primary goals in co-founding the American Trade Association for Cannabis & Hemp in 2014 was to continue to apply pressure at the Federal level in order to drive an end to prohibition. A rescheduling does not end prohibition. Only de-scheduling will truly end prohibition. A reschedule to any other level would essentially destroy most of the State level medical cannabis programs currently in place. It is for this reason that in 2018 I accepted a position as a founding Board Member of the Cannabis Trade Federation (https://www.cannabistradefederation.com). Our primary focus is to pass the STATES Act in the next Congress. We believe this Act creates an environment where legal Cannabis businesses can operate without fear of Federal interference in their operations, banking and taxation.”
— Erik Knutson, President of Keef Brands, producer of cannabis-infused beverages and edibles, including sparkling water and an assortment of soda flavors.