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Shares of most major cannabis firms have plummeted year to date. This continuation of a downtrend that began in the early part of 2021 has dragged valuations of cannabis growers and retailers to multi-year lows. Legislative reform in the US market is seen as a key catalyst to revive these stocks, but there is very little clarity as to when congress may overcome their disagreements on regulating cannabis and how broad any new legislation would be.

Local legislatures have been much more proactive, launching the sale of cannabis for recreational use in 18 states across the US. However, while state laws can provide legal protection from the prohibition of marijuana, most banks remain beholden to federal charters and, therefore, cannot do business with firms in violation of federal narcotics statutes. While banking reform is popular on both sides of the aisle, Congress remains split on how to implement it.

Related ETFs: AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF (MSOS), ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ)

In a largely symbolic move, the US House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act early this month, a bill that would legalize marijuana at the federal level. This was the second consecutive Congress to pass this bill in the House, but it will likely be shut down yet again in the Senate.

In 2020, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to take up the measure based due to low support among conservatives in the chamber. Though the Senate is now effectively split 50-50, but marginally controlled by the more cannabis-friendly Democrats, the bill is still unlikely to be taken up for a vote since Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) would prefer to propose his own bill that would impose higher excise taxes for marijuana importers and distributors. Getting a decent number of Republicans to support federal legalization would be hard enough, but even getting Democrats on the same page on exactly how to implement such a program has become its own hurdle.

This kind of legislative discordance is largely at odds with the will of the US general public.

A recent poll of 1,100 Americans aged 21 and older by Pollfish, on behalf of cannabis retailer Jushi Holdings, found nearly two-thirds of respondents believe cannabis has an overall positive impact on society, while 61.5% felt cannabis plays an important role in supporting U.S. economic growth. 62.6% also said “The cannabis industry is important for the local economy.”

MRP has been following a shift in US sentiment toward deregulation of cannabis use for both medical and recreational purposes for several years now. This latest survey compounds 2021 data from Pew Research, which found that 91% of American adults now believe marijuana should be legal for either medical or recreational use.

New Jersey Latest State to Launch Billion-Dollar Cannabis Market

Despite hardline federal laws labeling cannabis a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, on par with heroin, notes just 13 states have yet to at least decriminalize the medicinal sale of cannabis. In fact, the 18 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have legalized cannabis for recreational use now outnumber states where the substance is fully prohibited.

State-level actions on the deregulation of marijuana continues to move along steadily.

New Jersey will become the latest state to initiate the sale of recreational cannabis on April 21. Per Barron’s, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission will be issuing licenses to seven alternative treatment centers to begin adult-use operations, and at least 13 retail dispensaries. In March, the commission approved 68 conditional cannabis licenses, including 18 for manufacturing businesses and 60 for cultivation facilities. MJBizDaily projects the Garden State is poised to become one of the…

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