Marijuana: Democrats have been a ‘huge disappointment to the industry,’ Curaleaf exec says

IHSAAN FANUSIE

April 21, 2022, 10:03 AM

The cannabis industry has been disappointed with Democratic political leadership in the fight for national marijuana legislation, executives say.

With 4/20 in the rearview mirror for the cannabis industry, some companies are still looking for reasons to celebrate as the fight to legalize marijuana continues.

The Biden administration has been mostly silent on the topic of federal marijuana legalization, offering neither support nor opposition to the bill which passed the House of Representatives earlier this month.

The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, if signed into law, would remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and abolish the associated criminal penalties. The bill passed the House primarily by party lines and, receiving no support from the president, has yet to be introduced to the Senate.

“The Democrats, to be honest, have been a huge disappointment to the industry,” Curaleaf (CURLF) Executive Chairman Boris Jordan told Yahoo Finance Live in a recent segment. “We all came in after the election of President Biden, thinking that we were going to get real activity in the area of legislation, and we’ve gotten absolutely nothing. And I think that’s the real problem.”

People line up to buy recreational marijuana at the RISE marijuana dispensary on the first day recreational sales are allowed for customers over the age of 21, in Paterson, New Jersey, U.S., April 21, 2022. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Despite setbacks, Jordan noted, the marijuana industry has a bright future powered by strengthening demand.

“The industry is very strong,” Jordan said. “And we’re seeing very robust growth across the board in the United States, now in Europe, in Latin America, and even in Asia. And so, I think the cannabis tradition that was outlawed in 1936 in the United States and in other countries around the world is making a very, very strong comeback. And it’s hitting [the] mainstream across many, many continents, as well as many countries.”

More than a year after a statewide vote, New Jersey approved 13 medical dispensaries to sell adult-use marijuana beginning Thursday. The state joins 17 other states as well as the District of Columbia in allowing lawful purchase of recreational marijuana. Industry executives and analysts expect the legal cannabis industry to reach total sales of $33 billion by the end of the year. In 2021, marijuana sales in the U.S. amounted to approximately $25 billion, according to a new study by MJBiz.

Cureleaf, a US-based medical and wellness cannabis operator, has fallen over 50% in the last 12 months. Similar companies like Aurora (ACB), a Canadian cannabis producer, and Green Thumb Industries Inc (GTBI) are also down over 40% in the past year.

Jordan attributed the loss to a disappointing policy environment which was believed to be quicker in relaxing marijuana restrictions. As of now, he said, that hasn’t been the case.

“Our biggest problem is the federal government is so far behind the popular thought process on this,” Jordan said. “We have over 90% approval ratings. It may be the only bipartisan issue the United States of America is united on today, but yet, our legislators in Washington are behind the eight ball.”

In the next few months, industry analysts will look to observe whether politicians elected in this year’s upcoming elections will adopt a more favorable stance to emerging marijuana enterprises.

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