Voting Green in 2020: Industry Experts Talk About New Cannabis Legislation, The MORE Act, and Market Trajectory

Following the recent 2020 election results, cannabis stocks are growing exponentially. On election night, the United States saw a “Green Wave” when four states – Arizona, New Jersey, Montana and South Dakota – voted to legalize adult-use cannabis, and a fifth, Mississippi, approved medical marijuana.

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AUTHOR: Heather Allman



U.S. and Cannabis Legalization
Photo credit: Shayanne Gal/Business Insider


Following the recent 2020 election results, cannabis stocks are growing exponentially. On election night, the United States saw a “Green Wave” when four states – Arizona, New Jersey, Montana and South Dakota – voted to legalize adult-use cannabis, and a fifth, Mississippi, approved medical marijuana.


Between Monday, November 9, and Friday, November 13, 2020, I had the opportunity to speak with several insiders to get their valuable post-election insights on the expansion of cannabis legislation into five new U.S. states, including in-depth discussions with the following cannabis industry experts:


As Founder of Shraybman Law, Jessica works tirelessly with cannabis-related businesses, serving her clients by handling a myriad of specialty issues, such as intellectual property and trademark law, as well as regulatory compliance. Jessica Shraybman is able to come up with out of the box solutions. She always has several options on how to accomplish cannabis-related goals, in the right time and the right way. 


A serial entrepreneur, cannabis business expert and Chief of Staff at cannabis consulting firm Gateway Proven Strategies. Derek Porter is an advocate for “Safety, Security and Veteran Causes,” and is considered by The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), and the leading Cannabis Consulting Firms to be a subject matter expert on cannabis security. Derek sits on the Regulatory & Compliance Committee for the NCIA and has consulted for hundreds of cannabis licensees internationally.


A medical marijuana pioneer who uses his legal background to address marijuana policy reform as both an attorney and lobbyist, Brady Cobb cultivated his passion for the industry to found One Plant Florida. Bluma Wellness Inc. owns and operates a vertically-integrated, licensed medical cannabis company in the State of Florida doing business as “One Plant Florida.” 


As Director of Social Equity at Exclusive Brands, Michigan’s leading vertically integrated cannabis company and the first licensed recreational dispensary in the state, Narmin Jarrous is determined to lift up communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the prohibition of marijuana. Jarrous is the youngest executive in Exclusive’s history and is committed to using her platform to make safe, clean cannabis more accessible.


In our various individual conversations, we mainly talked about the November 2020 elections and what the results mean for the ever-expanding cannabis industry. 

On a larger scale, we also ended up talking about the possible effects of this election on overall cannabis policy, the MORE Act, the prospect of new regulatory frameworks, taxes, investing, and the possible future of the industry as a whole. 




What the results of the election mean for the cannabis space?


Jessica Shraybman: In this election cycle, five states had marijuana legislation on their ballots, and all five states approved those measures. This is a huge win for the cannabis industry, as now, despite federal illegality, marijuana is now illegal in only six states!

Along with medical and recreational measures, some of this legislation calls for taxing the good and also, in Montana and Arizona, those previously convicted of certain marijuana crimes may now seek expungement of those records.


Derek Porter: First off, we’ve got the the measures that had passed for our five states with regards to moving forward, whether it’s medicinal or recreational, and so forth. You know, we’re all very fortunate to see the great news with Mississippi with Arizona with South Dakota. And it was Montana in New Jersey. So that’s all phenomenal news. 

Gonna see a positive uptick. Starting next year, I think we’re going to be inundated with work, I think we’re going to see a very positive uptick, with regards to new investors. I wouldn’t say, you know, they’re going to get excited and dive right in, in q1 of next year.

But they are going to start diving in. I think that trade shows and expos will start to turn back on a little bit more mildly. And even the virtual conferences are still helpful. People are looking to make their next move and say goodbye to this mean year of 2020. 

So we’re going to see that next green wave, it’s going to be really busy, and really very exciting, even if the MORE Act gets killed in the Senate, it’s still going to be very exciting.

And there’s going to be a lot of new lucrative opportunities, especially with the five new states across the board for the next few years. We’re gonna see another rush and another wave of work. That’s what I’m saying. That’s what I’m excited about. That’s what I’m anticipating. 


Narmin Jarrous: I’m hoping it means sweeping reform of the cannabis industry federally because like you said, there are people dying behind bars right now in states where cannabis is legalized there’s people like Michael Thompson in Michigan who have been behind bars for years for nonviolent marijuana offenses.

And are you know, especially now in a pandemic are in a unique sort of danger because they’re behind bars, they’re, you know, being marginalized to another degree, when they’re put in extra danger of contracting COVID. 

And all of this is happening, while the state and both the federal and the state governments are benefiting from Pac revenue. And so, I know, even though it’s illegal federally, the federal government is benefiting from the taxes that you know, whether it be the payroll taxes or the sales or whatever it may be. 

They’re making money while these people are dying behind bars. And these people are primarily from black and brown communities, and they’re primarily of a lower socioeconomic status. 

And you know, we’re meant to turn a blind eye to that and I think that’s just wrong, and so that’s what I’m hoping the results for the election will lead to: is leaping reform is not just legalization which has been thrown a lot thrown around the lies decriminalization decarceration and getting these people out and reunited with their families, and hopefully getting some sort of reparations for the time they spent behind bars.


CLR: I agree. I think I mean I call it de-stigmatization of this whole culture. We just need to wipe out this inequality, and especially in communities of color who have always been marginalized, from a justice point of view.

And now, there have been these barriers to entry as far as operators and that’s what it sounds like in Michigan that you’re really trying to change with Exclusive Brands, and that are now possible in your state.


Narmin Jarrous: Exactly. And it’s something we’re really passionate about and I’m very excited to be able to be in this position to do it.

And, you know, I think it’s kind of rare to rare, have a stance to take and I’m hoping that the more exclusive brands does it, the more other companies will want to follow suit.

So that’s really our hope here. You know, we’ve always been proud of ourselves and the things we’ve accomplished we were the first in the state to be licensed for adult use. So we would first have recreational marijuana on December 1.


And so, we pride ourselves on being trailblazers on doing really great things. And I really hope that our legacy becomes, you know is built around our social equity efforts.


And I hope that you know kind of the legacy we leave behind. If anything, right and I was really excited to see, you know the results of what will come to fruition from the election and, and see this weekend cannabis reformed I really hope that people are focusing on decriminalization and not just legalization.


CLR: I agree i mean it’s all of these issues, de-scheduling is only part, and the decriminalization, all play a role in the de-stigmatizing, I mean legalization is one thing, but all of those other parts are up to us.


Brady Cobb: Yes. So at this job, some of the hardest meetings I’ve had DC either now they’re all my room. But some of the hardest meetings are convincing some of the caucus that doing something was the feedback, and then following up with states, and then going after something like MORE is a hard sell….

Like, we want it all, we want it right now. You know what I want? I want to be on an island full time just not having to work and having a full bank account, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to snap my fingers and it’s going to happen.

We have to get this done, and we have to get it through. Senate.

Right now we’ve got to get MORE through to the Senate.

Okay, say the world’s not gonna end, and they’re gonna see all this potential tax revenue, and then you go back to them say “hey, that would work, right? Yeah, look at this guy, he’s up all the money, and:

  • you can tax everybody… this is great.
  • Okay, now let’s do state.
  • Okay now let’s fix criminal justice reform.

It’s a hard sell —because they want it all and they want it now.

You’re going to get legislation passed through the House, and it’s just gonna sit there. You know they’re scheduled to vote as the great ceremonial vote, but it’s dead in the water with Mitch McConnell, the leader in the Senate.




What are your thoughts on the MORE Act and possible cannabis reform in the next few years?


Jessica Shraybman: Whether Congress finally joins the national majority (68% according to a recent Gallup poll) and legalizes marijuana is still to be determined. While it appears that the House of Representatives are set to vote on the MORE Act in December (and with a Democratic majority, likely to approve the measure), it’s uncertain that the Republican majority Senate would even entertain the measure were it to be presented. 

Regardless, a few things are clear: the people are speaking and the country is progressing.


Derek Porter: With regards to the MORE Act, we have the principal sponsor behind that Act, which is our soon to be —as long as Trump doesn’t challenge anything further or if it all gets sent to the states— our soon to be vice president. Madam Vice President.

So, with that individual being the initial sponsor behind the MORE Act, I think it’s really presents a lot of clout.

I know that in a COVID universe, right now, among other things, that our nation is going through from an economic standpoint, cannabis has not necessarily been, you know, a tippy-top priority.

But I think that, or I like to say it this way:

That blue is overall, or in other words, the Democratic Party, is overall more in favor than red, when it comes to marijuana as a whole, or even the cannabis industry as a whole. And I’m excited to see whatever happens with the MORE Act.


Narmin Jarrous: I mean, I absolutely hope that the MORE Act, moves forward in the House and the Senate, and that it gets passed, because it has so many, almost like small things that people wouldn’t think about that are really important for the de-stigmatization.

Like we talked about, like, even just the fact that it’s replacing that like statutory references to marijuana with cannabis is such like a small and, you know, to the layperson, it almost seems ineffectual, but it’s really very powerful in terms of the way the conversations we have around cannabis. 

And the fact that all these people are in jail for nonviolent marijuana offenses, and what marijuana has been built up to be, has been really demonized for so long!

And the “war on drugs” did this to us, and really drilled in people’s brains that marijuana is the bad thing, when in reality cannabis is medicine to many people, day in and day out,  in such mass, and really like in ways that we can’t list here.

I truly can’t overstate it.

And as someone as a person of color, with a disability, with a chronic pain condition, cannabis is truly a life-saving thing, and we’ve seen in time in the time of COVID, where it’s a little more difficult to go see your regular doctor, it could be difficult to get a refill your pain medicine, so cannabis is so important in people’s lives. 

That loosening of the stigma and making it more accessible for people, the importance of that truly cannot be overstated. The difference it can make in people’s lives, day in and day out cannot be overstated.

And so, that all lies within just making it more accessible. And that’s not even talking about the ways the more ask will benefit, businesses, and in turn benefit the employees of all those cannabis businesses, who in turn can finally reap benefits! One day when cannabis businesses are treated just like any other small business. 


Brady Cobb: Based on the scenario government with the Biden presidency, Republican Senate, Democratic house, I honestly think some of the biggest work we have to do within the government is going to be managing the expectations of the far left, because the far left is already calling for things and putting out it’s, it’s funny people always say all the damn republicans… and I started lobbying up there on cannabis five or six years ago and it was the damper publicans that were a pain in the ass.

What’s what we found now is, it’s a winner with the damn far right republicans and the far left liberals.

They’re starting to see the light,  but they didn’t it see 9 or 10 months ago, just a push to get funding through the house.

Great. You got it, but it’s got to be something that’s going to be palatable in the Senate and the Senate never wants to hear about as screwed up as it is,  about how unfair it is, but, you know, reparations, ahd earmarking dollars in the budget for cannabis businesses to grow, and SBA loans… all game of incrementalism, you got to have some type of incremental winning moving forward, continual small victories.

It’s not that I don’t want to see the MORE Act die, trust me. My father… I’m the product of a family that was broken up and divorced. The results of my father going to prison for cannabis.

And if I’m playing the game, if I’m in this game, and I’m playing it, the goal of any game is to win, and the playbook to win is not “everything at once” in DC.

The playbook includes three part when you chip away at it for six years. I’m in for another 20, like just chip away at it.


CLR: I think that reminds me of the Shawshank Redemption where he chips away at the poster with a tiny little rock hammer I think that’s what you’re saying, that’s the picture I’m getting in my head.

Brady Cobb: Chip chip chip chip chip keep calling keep moving incremental ism and, you know, we call it, stepping stones, you know my team and BGR group —which is Haley Barber’s lobby group— we just keep moving forward on stuff and you know go backwards.


CLR: Yes, I agree and I think you know you nailed that when you said you know that the far left democrats want too much at one time. They need to settle for will take a little bit… so we can move this forward and get a little bit more next time because we’re not gonna have a friendly enough environment for this to all happen at one time, so I really love what you’re saying about the long game.




What’s next for the cannabis industry in states that legalized? What states might be next?


Brady Cobb: I would just say that, ultimately, being the CEO of Bluma Wellness and One Plant Florida —which there’s so much going on here in Florida. That’s a whole other story—

You know, I just would say, what do you see as far as the state reform in Florida, for example, and then moving like now that they’ve seen some other states moving the ball forward.


Jessica Shraybman: States can expect fewer arrests for nonviolent drug possession, more jobs and opportunities for small business, and a significant increase in tax revenue. Montana, for example, estimates $38.5M projected revenue by 2025, some of which will go to important social institutions which could use the help.

Namely, education and mental health and substance abuse services. All in all, this screams progress.


Derek Porter: I hate to speculate on specific states. In fact, I even hate to speculate on politics. I will say that, not unlike in 2014 when Colorado, with recreational, when Washington went recreational weed, we saw, well, I like to call it the “Green Wave.” That’s certainly not my term, but I throw it around anyways, like it’s mine. And we’ll we’ll see an inundation of work on our side, you know, plenty of new operators are looking to get into the space. 

But we’ll also see some other states follow suit, because they see the potential, especially. In fact, this was a catalyst that I didn’t see coming when I initially got into the industry, with regards to the progress in the industry, the tipping point is oftentimes the state governments, because we’re talking taxes, right? We’re talking a new crop that they can benefit from.

I mean, even look at the look at the MORE Act at a federal level, for example, if that passes, then there’s going to be a trust with a 5% tax going into that trust, constantly over time. I mean, gosh, in in the first couple years, we’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars it’s going to be accumulated that can be put to use in a variety of different capacities. So I think that with the five new states, we’re going to see new progress for sure. 


And especially if if there is any chance in heck that the MORE Act moves forward, even if it does get killed in the in the Senate, the fact that it’s going to be introduced the fact that we’ve got Kamala Harris as the sponsor, those are still good things, it’s gonna be slow rolling for cannabis, as it always has been.
I think there’s pros and cons with that… some of the pros are that we get to mature at an appropriate pace in this industry. 


So we can’t we can’t move too far forward too quickly, with the various legal handicaps. But we’re gonna see other states continue to wake up. They’re going to see the tax advantages and how those that money can be reallocated toward things like education, and a variety of other areas. 

And we’ll we’ll see other states follow suit, and before you know it, the entire nation is going to be online with it, and and then we’ll just see continued advancements at a federal level.

So we can continue moving forward with unrestricted banking and a variety of other capacities. 

But one of the one of the most exciting things that I think will come into play, and this affects all the states and any new states they may come online, is that if the MORE Act moves past voting, and upon de-scheduling — and all the good things that come with that— but upon the de-scheduling, universities are best known for doing large scale long term studies, with regards to most anything, but especially drugs. 

Now, if it’s de-scheduled, and it’s no longer classified as a scheduled drug, that allows for massive testing to come into play, which will wake up more and more investors.

These new states will wake up new potential owner-operators. In addition to our institutions, our governments and our municipalities, they will wake up to the positive results that come by way of testing the waters.

And we’ll start to see, like I said, more positive progression. Forgive my long winded answer.


Brady Cobb: If you don’t have the product and you don’t invest in it as a business owner and CEO.

I chose to invest in building my cultivation team with people that were passionate about the plant and had been passionate about the plant both in the black market and illegal market across the country and a workforce in Colorado, California.

The team genetics, and then you got a facility in Florida, which is ridiculously hard to grow where they can actually produce. 

So those are thep three most important things that when I was making those investments, I had shareholders and analysts told me I was an idiot because I wasn’t opening sores, and I said, “it’s an angel of truth that transcends legal construct of medical marijuana.’

If you have good weed —black market or legal market— it’s not hard to fucking sell. You don’t need marketing. You don’t need to discount it. You don’t need to advertise it. 

So, I’m going to grow really good weed, and then everything else is going to kind of fall in line with our general plan, if I’m oversimplifying it.

Then once we dialed in the flower, we say ‘Do I want to take this really good flower and turn it into distillate by having to use ethanol or butane or would I rather wash it with ice water’ and you go ahead and go into that game which is a much more premium market.

The new state legislations push us forward as a country, inching us closer to passage of the MORE Act.



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