Nov 4, 2020
Cannabis execs cheer 'green landslide' of votes for legal pot
Despite all the uncertainty surrounding the U.S. election, there’s a clear victor already: domestic cannabis companies.
Leaders across the industry cheered after marijuana measures passed in all five states that had them on the ballot Tuesday -- even in deeply red parts of the country. The results buoyed the biggest U.S.-based players in the market.
“Cannabis won, and won big,” said Boris Jordan, chairman of Curaleaf Holdings Inc., one of the largest cannabis companies. “It’s a green landslide.”
The latest results make recreational marijuana legal in 15 states and approved for medical purposes nearly nationwide, pushing the once-taboo topic of legalization firmly into the U.S. mainstream. Voter support in New Jersey passed by a wide margin, while Mississippi voted for the more liberal of two options to legalize medical use.
“We think that is a big signal to Washington and other states,” Jordan said in a phone interview. “Cannabis has won much bigger than anyone thought.”
Curaleaf shares rose 4.2 per cent at 11:47 a.m. in New York, while Harvest Health & Recreation Inc. surged 7.6 per cent and Green Thumb Industries Inc. climbed 5.9 per cent.
Despite growing support for cannabis in the U.S., prospects for federal legalization took a hit with the likely possibility that Republicans retain control of the Senate. As of Wednesday morning, Republicans had won 47 seats, with six races too close to call.
That weighed on Canadian cannabis companies, which are missing out on the US market strength. Some investors had also thought they might have had an easier time breaking into it under an all-blue scenario. Shares of Canopy Growth Corp., the industry’s biggest Canadian company, slumped eight per cent.
The likelihood of a Republican senate means that the MORE Act -- legislation which would de-schedule cannabis -- is now off the table, and legal change will more likely happen under the STATES Act, which just defers legalization issues to states.
After the latest results led to legalization in New Jersey, Arizona, Montana and South Dakota, as well as medical legalization in Mississippi, the total addressable market for cannabis producers has grown by more than US$3 billion, Cowen analyst Vivien Azer said in a note.
With recreational legalization passing in New Jersey, that could put pressure on neighboring markets such as New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut to make a similar move soon.
The rapid acceptance isn’t exactly a surprise to many in the industry, but executives were still glad to see it actually play out.
“You wake up and you see a third of America is living in states where cannabis is legal for adults,” said Ben Kovler, chief executive officer of Green Thumb Industries.