Cannabis justice is finally coming to the United States. Why should investors care?
It’s because cannabis legalization in the U.S. has now become inextricably connected with ending the persecution of “marijuana” users. And (increasingly) it is the demand for cannabis justice that is driving calls for full legalization. More on this later.
Unless someone has been vacationing on the Dark Side of the Moon, they know that cannabis Prohibition is (gradually) coming to an end in the United States. But it’s not ending because of the will of the U.S. government. It is coming in spite of it.
U.S. states have been forced by the courts to provide Americans with access to cannabis for medicinal purposes. State populations forced cannabis legalization ballots through sheer numbers of supporters – and then forced the state government to legalize cannabis when the ballot received majority support.
Finally, more than 20 years after California was first forced to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes, we are now seeing state governments actually move to legalize cannabis on their own initiative.
The U.S. federal government, however, continues to live in its own little fantasy world with respect to cannabis. In that fantasy world, cannabis = heroin.
There was never the tiniest bit of rationality to this legal status during all the decades of cannabis Prohibition. The difference (in 2019) is that most Americans now understand the absurdity of current laws.
A broad and rising majority of the American people (roughly 2 out of 3) support full legalization in the United States. Even a majority of Republican voters (56%) now support cannabis legalization. But the current administration of anti-cannabis dinosaurs has refused to embrace the will of the People and pursue national legalization of cannabis.
The current vaping health issue that has hospitalized hundreds of Americans and killed more than 20. This regulatory failure is a direct consequence of cannabis Prohibition. The blood of the victims is on the hands of this Republican government.
Even as the American people demand an end to cannabis Prohibition (for many reasons), a parallel demand is surfacing. The demand for cannabis justice.
There are several elements to this demand.
- Expunging cannabis convictions in U.S. states that have been enlightened enough to already put an end to cannabis Prohibition.
- In states not enlightened enough to have ended Prohibition, to stop using archaic anti-cannabis laws as a tool of racial oppression.
- Simple fairness.
Virtually every state bill to legalize cannabis this year has contained some sort of “expungement” provision to remove cannabis-based convictions from criminal records. Correcting a mistake: a mistake that has often had devastating consequences on those convicted.
Illinois, in particular, has passed a very progressive cannabis legalization bill that includes expungement and other social equity provisions. It is now difficult to muster sufficient votes for legalization initiatives that don’t include the expungement of cannabis-based convictions.
Then there are the unenlightened states that continue to endorse Prohibition and continue to prosecute/persecute cannabis “offenders”. Here we are now seeing (for the first time) grassroots justice for Americans still being prosecuted for cannabis use/possession.
Louisiana is not only a Prohibition state. It is especially notorious for its racially slanted record in cannabis arrests and prosecutions.
In a recent court case there, a New Orleans prosecutor was seeking a 10 - 15 year prison sentence for an African American accused of cannabis possession. The problem? The state was unable to find a jury that was willing to consider such an extreme sentence.
As potential jurors were dismissed (and the state had run out of candidates), the prosecution had two choices. It could negotiate a (favorable) deal with the accused. Or, it could declare a mistrial and the defendant would simply walk away.
The prosecution chose “deal”. But instead of the 10 - 15 year prison sentence it was after, the defendant received a 10-day sentence – served on weekends. Grassroots cannabis justice.
At the federal level, many Democrats are now outspoken that national legalization can only proceed if it is accompanied by cannabis justice. Forget about all the previous Democrat administrations that happily endorsed the War on Pot. Today, Democrats are born-again “cannabis justice” hawks.
Cannabis legalization can only take place (nationally) in the U.S. if it includes cannabis justice.
Some investors may see this as a liability. But this is perhaps too narrow a perspective.
What we are now seeing in the United States – and demonstrated in Louisiana – is (belated) anger from the American people toward the persecution of cannabis users.
Cannabis is non-toxic and non-addictive. In comparison, alcohol and tobacco (the two legal recreational drugs) are toxic and addictive. They combine to kill more than 500,000 Americans every year.
If a rational society was to legalize only one drug for social use, that drug would be cannabis. Not tobacco. Not alcohol.
Cannabis justice demands cannabis legalization. Simple fairness demands cannabis legalization.
Americans now understand this. The importance here for cannabis investors and the U.S. cannabis industry?
As the 2020 election approaches, it is unlikely that any presidential candidate that does not support full cannabis legalization and cannabis justice is electable.