Investors geared up for the 2018 midterm elections hoping for a repeat of 2016 elections.
The 2016 elections will be viewed as a historic turning point for legal marijuana in the U.S.
Voters in five states, including California, voted to legalize recreational use marijuana.
The genie was released from the bottle and marijuana stocks made a major leap forward into the mainstream.
The results from 2018 are in and the only thing clear is that the results were unclear.
With Democrats taking the House of Representatives and Republicans gaining seats in the Senate, it’s anyone’s guess what’s going to happen at the federal level.
We are still leaning towards expecting complete federal legalization in 2019.
We’re not alone either. One wildly successful predictor of future political changes recently predicted a divided government (like we have now) is ideal for marijuana legalization in the US.
Other than that, there was some good news for marijuana investors from the elections.
Here’s a rundown and a dispassionate analysis.
The elections were mostly positive.
Leading the way was a ballot measure in Michigan which was going to legalize recreational use marijuana.
It couldn’t have gone any better.
The measure passed by a comfortable 56% to 44%.
Overnight it added the nations 11th most populous state and billions more dollars to the growth potential of the marijuana market.
Missouri also approved marijuana for medicinal use through a ballot measure.
There were three proposals and only one (the one with a 4% tax rate on legal medicinal marijuana) passed.
Not a huge state by population. But with Kansas City and St. Louis, it’s still the 18th largest state population in the county.
Approving medicinal use marijuana is a key step towards complete legalization.
The overwhelming approval of has historically shown recreational use won't be far behind for the six million residents of Missouri.
Nothing earth shattering here, but every little bit helps.
Utah voters gave the go-ahead to medicinal marijuana too.
It's a small state and it's only medicinal, so not much going to move the overall needle.
However, it's important to note - if one of the most deeply conservative states approves marijuana, which others won't do so over time?
The one state where marijuana legalization was on the ballot and failed was in North Dakota.
The measure was rejected handily by North Dakotans by a current tally of 64% to 36%.
This would seem like a setback.
Looking at the details reveals a different picture though.
North Dakota’s ballot measure also included a provision which would require courts to expunge the records of all those previous convicted of marijuana crimes.
Legalizing marijuana may be increasingly popular, expunging records is not.
They reached too far here.
The news which sent marijuana stocks running up though was the resignation (almost certainly a “we can do this the easy way or the hard way” firing) of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Sessions is a long-time opponent of legal marijuana.
Although he never cracked down on legal marijuana in states, he was viewed a symbol of the declining legalization opponents.
The Seed Investor doesn’t put nearly as much weight on this event as the market does and expect it to turn out to be a non-event in the long run towards legalization.
What To Watch
The next big drivers of legalization will be the remaining big population states of New York and Florida.
Although there’s no clear timeline on those states legalizing recreational use marijuana, it does look more like it’s coming sooner than later.
The Big Picture
In the end, this election hasn’t changed anything in the U.S.
We may have moved a bit closer to complete legalization, but that’s about it.
At this point, the states with legal marijuana are seeing strong sales growth and the markets are maturing.
The split Congress will have to decide whether it’s going to be an issue or not.
With 60% of Americans approving of legalization, few politicians are going to die on this hill.
So it’s going to happen. It’s going to be big. But it will either take a few more years or a few months.
If it’s the former, continue to buy dips and companies focused on the end user with branded products. Vapes and edibles will provide the next wave of growth as the market matures.
If it’s the latter…all we can say is, game on. Things will heat up fast.
The Seed Investor