2020 has been an absolute roller coaster, and weed legalization has gotten nowhere. A minimum of 18 states were predicted to legalize cannabis this year, and then COVID-19 happened. The ballot measure campaigns were forced to shut down due to health concerns.
Campaigns in states that aim to put cannabis legalization on the ballots are on hold this election cycle. The pandemic has made it impossible to secure enough signatures for the ballot. The cannabis legislative priorities were pushed aside when the public health crisis arose.
The global pandemic cannot be entirely blamed for the failure to legalize weed, but it has greatly impacted the landscape. However, seven states do have the opportunity to vote for medical or adult-use of weed this November.
With all the uncertainty and disruption caused by COVID-19, it looks like 2021 could be a good year for cannabis stocks.
Cannabis Legalization on the Ballots
Federal legalization of cannabis is far-fetched for 2020. Despite some recent momentum given by the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act, legalization has not reached the Congress table. President Donald Trump seems to have no plans to legalize cannabis and is facing no pressure on this matter from his political opponent, Joe Biden.
Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota will have ballot measures to legalize weed for adults over 21, and Idaho, Mississippi, Nebraska, and South Dakota will have ballot measures for a medical cannabis program.
Idaho is still fighting to win the right to collect signatures electronically. The state has collected over 45,000 unverified signatures, and they require 55,057 valid signatures for the ballot.
South Dakota will be the first state to vote on both medical and adult-use legalization in the same election year. In Mississippi, the voters can vote for two different legalization initiatives, Initiative 65 and Initiative 65A.
Initiative 65 talks about specific information on various conditions, limits, fees, and more, whereas Initiative 65A provides minimal details for a medical program.
Campaigning for Cannabis Legalization and COVID-19
With COVID-19, health concerns have dramatically impacted gathering signatures and campaigning. Signature gathering requires people to go door-to-door or visit busy locations. This may lead to close contact and sharing of materials, increasing the risk of contracting the virus.
Due to these reasons, many campaigns had to be put on hold, or extra safety measures had to be put in place. In Montana, 150,000 pens were ordered so that each signer could have their own pen. There were handwashing stations set up with social distancing regulations in place and 130,000 people stepped up to sign.
Campaigns generally have to focus on voter education and advertising strategy once they have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. However, due to the pandemic, the campaigns have to focus on reaching out to the voters remotely.
With COVID-19, campaigners also have to educate the public on how to vote by mail. To ensure that the votes are counted, the ballot should be done right by voting for marijuana legalization, and signing the outside envelope.
With all these complications in 2020, 2021 may seem like the perfect year for cannabis legalization. With the virus getting under control, campaigns can be conducted naturally, and ballot measures will be successful.
Canadian marijuana stocks that trade on major U.S. exchanges jumped last week, after Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris said she and presidential nominee Joe Biden would work to decriminalize marijuana. Harris made the remarks during the Oct. 7 vice-presidential debate with Mike Pence.
Still, Canadian pot producer Canopy Growth (CGC), which is also the largest marijuana stock by market, rose 28% during the week of the debate. Although growth in Canadian marijuana dispensaries will undoubtedly play a role here, Wall Street projects that Canopy Growth will grow sales by a healthy 61% (Source).
Despite all this, we deal with predictions and it is not at all certain which marijuana stocks will be longer-term winners. We also have to keep in mind that Federal legalization in the U.S. and other markets still isn’t guaranteed.
Cannabis Legalization in 2021
In Arizona, more than 6 in 10 people support the legal adult-use of marijuana. Only two (Nebraska and Mississippi) out of the seven states have taken steps in the past to decriminalize cannabis. In the current ballot measures, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota are looking to decriminalize it.
States like Idaho and South Dakota have strict cannabis laws, and if they join hands in legalizing marijuana, other states will follow by 2021. Apart from active public support, the governors, local and state representatives also play a considerable role in legalizing marijuana. Local elections decide how the local government deals with commercial cannabis activity.
The local cannabis market quality relies heavily on those in the government who are tasked with overseeing the legal cannabis industry. Hence, voters should research their candidates and find out if they support cannabis legalization.
With cannabis legalization, the states could generate millions in tax revenue, which will make up for public funds drying up due to COVID-19. Patients can legally access marijuana for their treatment, and adults can also consume it legally.
So, what do you think? 2021 could be the perfect year for federal cannabis legalization!