As the Presidential election nears, it seems the topic of cannabis legalization is driving investor interest in the industry. Cannabis ETF issuer ETFMG, who manages ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSE Arca: MJ), reported its 1,000th creation unit sold on October 12, 2020. The company said that the subject of legalization of cannabis in several states has led to increased investor demand evidenced by the increased daily trading volume. Shortly after the Vice-Presidential debate, MJ saw trading volume increase three times its normal activity, 750,000 to nearly 2.4 million. MJ currently has 50 million shares outstanding. Since the beginning of Q4 2020, the Fund is up 10.66%.
The Democrat party platform of Vice President Joe Biden & Senator Kamala Harris, officially says they would seek to decriminalize marijuana use and reschedule it (from DEA Schedule I) through executive action on the federal level. They support the legalization of medical marijuana nationwide and believe states should be able to make their own decisions about recreational use. Their platform believes the Justice Department should not launch federal prosecutions of conduct that is legal at the state level, as well as that all past criminal convictions for cannabis use should be automatically expunged (this is a combination of previously proposed STATES ACT and MORE ACT).
On the Republican side, if President Trump were reelected, some say it would not be seen as negative for the cannabis industry. In the past four years under the Trump Administration, legal sales of cannabis in the U.S. have expanded more than at any other time in history. In addition, his administration has not interfered with state law cannabis legalization, which has increased tremendously. However, President Trump did ask some swing states to remove any cannabis legislation from the ballots because that would draw more Democrats to vote. Plus, despite many cannabis supporters who believe Trump is friendly to the industry, the Uniform Crime Report from the FBI reported that more people were arrested for cannabis in 2019 than for all violent crimes put together. The hard data from the FBI’s report clearly showed that police arrested 545,602 people for cannabis-related crimes in 2019. “That arrest rate is 9% higher than the 495,871 people arrested for violent crimes the same year.”
Looking back in history, Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1932 presidential campaign included the repeal of Prohibition. Following his win, Congress proposed the 21st Amendment to end Prohibition.
“Regardless of who wins the White House, U.S. cannabis expansion is expected to continue past November,” said Dan Ahrens, chief operating officer, and portfolio manager at AdvisorShares. Ahrens serves as the portfolio manager of the AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (Ticker: YOLO), AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF (Ticker: MSOS) and the AdvisorShares Vice ETF (Ticker: ACT). He added that Arizona and New Jersey each have ballot proposals for voters to decide on legalizing recreational cannabis use. Both states currently have successful medical marijuana programs too. “Other states including South Dakota, Montana and Mississippi also have recreational and/or medical marijuana proposals up for vote. Pending New Jersey’s ballot vote, it is widely thought that Pennsylvania and New York could soon approve recreational marijuana use by legislative action, rather than ballot measure, which was how Illinois approved recreational use last year. At the very least, given the populations of Arizona and New Jersey, recreational cannabis legalization would be a huge victory for U.S. cannabis companies.”