Cannabis Watch: Cannabis stocks rally on flurry of federal moves toward legalization

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Lawmakers taking fresh steps toward federal legalization of cannabis sparked a rally in cannabis stocks on Friday.

Following through on big moves higher in the previous session, beaten-up shares of cannabis stocks started getting off the mat.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote for the second time on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act that would legalize cannabis. The news was reported in a Thursday article in Marijuana Moment.

The bill is on a list of other measures that House leaders plan to take up on the House floor next week.

An earlier version cleared the House in 2020 but later stalled in what was a Republican-majority Senate.

Separately, the Senate on Thursday passed legislation sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D, Calif.), Chuck Grassley (R, Iowa) and Brian Schatz (D, Hawaii) to expand scientific and medical research on cannabis and its compounds.

“Current rules and regulations make it hard for researchers to study how marijuana and marijuana-derived medications can best be used to treat various conditions,” Feinstein said in a statement. “This important legislation will cut the red tape around the research process, helping get FDA-approved, marijuana-derived medications safely to patients.”

Shares of both Canadian and American-based cannabis companies rose Friday after moving higher in the previous session. Companies from both sides of the border have been working to tap into the U.S. market.

Canadian producer Canopy Growth Corp
CGC,
+11.42%

WEED,
+11.45%

rose 10% in premarket trades. The company is poised to immediately benefit from U.S. legalization as it has an option to acquire multi-state operator Acreage Holdings
ACRHF,
+13.33%

once the law changes. Acreage shares rose 13%.

Canada’s Aurora Cannabis
ACB,
+10.99%

ACB,
+10.48%

was up 12%, Cronos Group Inc.
CRON,
+8.72%

CRON,
+9.61%

was up 7% and Tilray Brands Inc. 
TLRY,
+21.85%

was up 13.6%.

U.S. cannabis companies Trulieve Cannabis Corp.
TCNNF,
+6.36%

fell Thursday, but Columbia Care Inc.
CCHWF,
-3.92%

rose 7.5% in after hours trades on Thursday.

The AdvisorShares Pure US Cananbis ETF 
MSOS,
+0.89%

was up 3.1% after retreating by 20% so far in 2022. The Cannabis ETF 
THCX,
+4.75%

was up 6.7%. It’s down 12.2% this year.

The rally comes after cannabis stocks have mostly moved lower in recent months. However, the stocks did rally in November when Nancy Mace, (R, S.C.) introduced her States Reform Act to regulate cannabis in a similar fashion to tobacco.

Also Read: Amazon endorses federal cannabis legislation from Republican

Mace told MarketWatch said she’s been offered the chairperson role on the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which is within the House Oversight Committee. She’s hoping to hold hearings on the States Reform Act within a few weeks.

The original five co-sponsors of the bill remain behind the States Reform Act, but she did not name any additional co-sponsors.

“I’ve been focusing on a lot of advocacy work and educating and getting data,” Mace said. “We have to be able to provide education…on why this is good, from health care to addressing drug addiction to helping the economy and jobs.”

Mace has been compiling data on home districts of legislators on the economic and other potential benefits of legal cannabis such as reducing opioid abuse. It has been shown that as little as one dispensary in a state could reduce opioid deaths.

Mace voted in favor of the SAFE Banking Act, which has repeatedly died in the Senate.

Mace said she’s been drawing interest from more Republicans to back her bill, but some candidates are holding off on any public statements until after the GOP primary season.  

Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D, N.Y.) has said he plans to file his own bill in April, and Mace is watching for that.

There are also roughly 2,600 people in the federal prison system for non-violent cannabis offenses and getting those people out of jail appeals to conservative efforts to reduce government spending.

If the Republicans take over the House and Senate in the midterm elections, Mace believes her bill may gain additional traction. 

Overall cannabis executives have been more optimistic about federal legalization but timing remains uncertain.

Also Read: Cresco Labs is buying Columbia Care in major cannabis merger that will create biggest U.S. player

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