First time ever a congressional committee in the U.S. has voted on a cannabis legalization bill

For the first time ever, a congressional committee in the U.S. has voted on a cannabis legalization bill. The law in question, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019, passed the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday in a 24-10 vote.

If approved by the House and Senate, the MORE Act would end the federal prohibition of cannabis with other provisions for social equity, record expungement and small business support. See the video below for the main highlights.

"It is significant that the first legalization bill passed by a congressional committee is not just a descheduling bill, but one that takes a thoughtful and reparative approach. The MORE ACT acknowledges the harms of the war on drugs and works to repair some of those harms for the individuals and communities that have been ravaged in its wake," said Charlotte Resing, a policy analyst working at the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office, told Benzinga. 

“People in the United States use and sell marijuana at roughly the same rate regardless of their race, yet a black person is almost four times more likely than a white person to be arrested for marijuana possession nationwide. As we move forward with legalization across the country, we can look to this bill for the necessary criminal legal reform and racial justice considerations that are necessary for an equitable and just legalization package." 

Green Market Report CEO Debra Borchardt said investors should not get too distracted by the development. 

"This week's approval of the MORE Act by the House Judiciary Committee seemed to outshine the slew of earnings reports we received this week. While this is still just one step of many that have to happen for this legislation to become law, it is still momentous, as it’s the most comprehensive cannabis legislation to move forward to date," she said.

The earnings reports show that the cannabis industry is beginning to shake out solid performers from ones that based their strategies on high hopes that haven't played out as planned, Borchardt said. 

"Investors are getting a better idea of who is making the right decisions and who isn't."

The following are among the companies that reported earnings this week: 

  • Trulieve Cannabis Corp. (CSE: TRUL) (OTC: TCNNF)
  • Ayr Strategies Inc. (CSE: AYR.A) (OTC: AYRSF)
  • Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. (CSE: CURA) (OTC: CURLF)
  • Harvest Health & Recreation Inc. (CSE: HARV) (OTC: HRVSF)
  • Terrascend Corp (OTC: TRSSF)
  • Green Thumb Industries Inc. (CSE: GTII) (OTC: GTBIF)
  • iAnthus Capital Holdings, Inc. (CSE: IAN) (OTC: ITHUF)
  • TILT Holdings Inc. (CSE: TILT) (OTC: TLLTF)
  • Abacus Health Products Inc (OTC: ABAHF)
  • Harborside Inc (OTC: HSDEF) (CNSX: HBOR)

For our full coverage on cannabis, hemp and CBD earnings, check out our Benzinga Cannabis earnings portal.

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In more policy news, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration announced that it will increase taxes on the regulated cannabis industry yet again. The markup rate for the marijuana excise tax will increase from 60% to 80% on New Year’s Day, the CDTFA said. Industry participants expressed concerns that this move will further suppress an already weak legal market and fuel the thriving illicit market.

Cannabis ETFs delivered big gains. Over the last five trading days:

  • The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF (OTC: HMLSF) (TSE: HMMJ) was up 5.61%.
  • The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSE: MJ) gained 4.46%.
  • The AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (NYSE: YOLO) was up 4.88%.
  • The Cannabis ETF (NYSE: THCX) rose 4.82%.
  • The Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF (NYSE: CNBS) advanced 5.04%.
  • The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) closed the period down 0.2%.

More News From The Week

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) announced it is removing vaping apps from its App Store in the wake of vaping-related illnesses and deaths reported by the CDC. 

“Apple’s blanket removal of all vaporization related apps from App Store will have a significant short-term impact on the industry. Especially as we see more technology innovators coming into the vaporization space with sophisticated products and services that require connectivity," Airgraft CEO Mladen Barbaric told Bezinga. 

“Ironically, all the vaping issues right now stem from analog devices and illicit liquids containing dangerous cutting agents and contaminants. By cutting off the iOS access, Apple are in effect penalizing digital innovation that brings accountability, transparency, security and control to cannabis vapor users."

The ban is likely to have a reverse effect like most prohibition efforts, forcing users to accept lower standards and accountability, Barbaric said — "effectively pushing people to the exact devices and substances that are the cause of illness." 

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