The Great Year of Legal Marijuana
12 months of toast with champagne was 2018 for the legal marijuana industry : the global market exploded and cannabis was inserted more into the main streams of culture and finance.
California , a liberal state, became the largest legal market in the United States, but they also embraced medical marijuana Utah and Oklahoma, which are conservative.
Canada accompanied the wave of legalization and the Supreme Court of Mexico prepared the way for that country to be added.
Drug regulatory agencies in the US they approved the first marijuana-based remedy to treat young children suffering from a type of epilepsy, and the cannabis companies received billions of dollars of investments. Even top-tier brands like Coca Cola consider joining the party .
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“For decades I have been working on the issue and this year the movement reached its peak, ” said legislator Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat seeking to break the federal ban on joint. “It is clear that it is a critical moment.”
With the noise that is on the subject throughout the planet, the momentum will continue in 2019 .
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“It’s not just the US anymore. It’s expanding,” said Ben Curren, the leader of Green Bits, a San Jose (California) firm that developed software for businesses linked to marijuana.
It is one of several companies that flourished with the growth of the industry. Curren started in 2014 with 2 friends and now has 85 employees and its software processes 2,500 million dollars per year that bill more than 1,000 salespeople.
In April Green Bits brought together 17 million dollars with investors such as Casa Verde Capital, by rapper Snoop Dogg.
Curren wants to expand internationally by 2020: “A big part of the problem is keeping up with the growth,” he said.
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In 2018 the legal marijuana industry in the US it moved 10.4 billion dollars and generated 250,000 jobs just to serve the plants , according to Beau Whitney, vice president and senior economist at New Frontier Data, a leading market research and cannabis data analysis company. According to Whitney, there are many other tasks that do not involve caring for plants, but they are more difficult to quantify.
He added that investors turned this year 10,000 million dollars in the cannabis industry in North America alone: it is twice what they put in the previous 3 years together. And it is estimated that in 2019 the market in the region will exceed 16,000 million dollars .
“Investors are understanding the scenario more, just a couple of years ago they were throwing money to see if something caught, now they discern much better,” he said.
More and more legislators notice that success and want to take it to their places of origin . Nearly two-thirds of American states have already legalized some form of medical marijuana.
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In November, voters transformed Michigan into the tenth state (the first in the Midwest) that legalized recreational marijuana
The governors of New York and New Jersey are pushing similar laws for next year and the climate for wider legalization is being built in Pennsylvania and Illinois.
” Let’s legalize once and for all the recreational use of marijuana for adults ,” New York President Andrew Cuomo said last week .
State legislators in Nebraska have just put together a campaign committee to vote on a medicinal cannabis initiative in 2020.
” Attitudes have evolved and changed rapidly, I know that my own attitude changed,” acknowledged Adam Morfeld, a Democratic state senator in Nebraska. “Seeing the medical benefits and seeing how other states implemented it convinced me that it is not the dangerous drug that was painted .”
Despite its success, the US marijuana industry. it is still weakened by a robust black market and federal laws that treat marijuana as an illegal substance , as well as heroin.
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Financial institutions look at the cannabis market with concern, even in states where it is legal. And until recently, investors were reluctant to put money behind the joint .
Marijuana businesses can not deduct their expenses from federal taxes and face enormous challenges when purchasing insurance or getting physical locations for their operations .
“We’ll have to live with that until there’s a complete national legalization,” said Marc Press, a New Jersey lawyer who works for industry firms.
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Earlier this year, the industry was frozen when Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned a policy that protected state-licensed marijuana operators from federal charges. Finally, the move had minimal impact because federal prosecutors showed little interest in pursuing legal operators .
Sessions, a staunch opponent of marijuana, lost the job while President Donald Trump said he planned to support the efforts of Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado to relax the federal ban.
In the November elections the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and next year they intend to introduce legislation to reduce the national restrictions for the marijuana industry without removing it from the list of illegal drugs .
Argentine chef Natalia Revelant teaches how to make food with marijuana. (AFP)
Gardner and Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren presented a bill for federal law to allow cannabis commercial activity previously approved at the state level. The initiative would also allow indigenous states and tribes to determine the regulation of marijuana in their domains , without fear of federal intervention.
If that becomes a law, banking access for the marijuana industry will be opened throughout the country and it will make it easier for companies in the sector to secure capital.
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The Blumenauer legislator’s “blueprint” for legalizing marijuana also includes the national government giving the medicinal variant to war veterans, more equitable taxes for marijuana companies and reducing federal bans on marijuana research, among other things.
“People chose the most procannabis Congress in history and, more importantly, many who represented obstacles … are no longer there,” said Blumenauer. “If we can start in the lower house, I think we’re going to have support in the Senate, especially if we tackle important things like the access of war veterans and banking activity.”