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Marijuana
Marijuana

Marijuana will be legal for every single Canadian citizen over the age of 18 by July 1, 2018.

The fact that the Canadian government is now fully onboard with legal weed is huge for two reasons.

First, it brings stability to Canada’s marijuana industry, something that’s desperately lacking in the United States. And secondly, it’ll encourage people (potential cannabis consumers who have never tried the drug) and governments (namely the United States) to ramp up their own experimentation.

The latter might even be called “peer pressure,” and it’s already working extremely well.

In the United States we have California, Colorado, and Washington to thank for our progress. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996 and Colorado and Washington were the first to legalize it for recreational purposes in 2012.

These are the states that first showed how beneficial, and profitable, cannabis can be. They’ve demonstrated that legal weed brings little harm and lots of money.

Colorado topped $1 billion in marijuana sales last year, up 30% from 2015. And that’s expected to rise to $20 billion by 2021.

“This money is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Mason Tvert, the Marijuana Policy Project’s Denver-based communications director. “Hopefully this will be a wake-up call for the 42 states that still choose to force marijuana sales into the criminal market and forgo millions of dollars in tax revenue.”

Indeed, Colorado raked in $200 million in cannabis business tax revenue last year. And that’s all gravy considering that total was ZERO just a few short years ago. Furthermore, Colorado is saving the $145 million it had previously spent each year to combat the drug.

That’s a $345 million swing for a state that’s still facing a $260 million budget deficit in 2017.

Washington is expected to get over $300 million in cannabis taxes this year.

As with Colorado, the money extracted from cannabis typically goes to the greater good.

Let’s say you buy a $30 bag of weed in Washington. Of that, the state gets $7.57 in cannabis taxes, $4 of which goes to Medicaid. So essentially, marijuana sales are subsidizing health care for poor people.

Beyond that, $2.45 goes to the state’s general fund, and about $0.90 goes to the state’s health and social services departments.

Cannabis taxes also sponsor substance abuse prevention and drug education programs.

The grand total of Washington’s excise tax was $168 million last year.

Given that, it’s no surprise more and more states are passing joints, or bills rather.

In addition to Washington and Colorado, California, Nevada, Alaska, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia have all legalized pot. Twelve states have decriminalized the drug and cleared it for medical purposes. Just five states — Idaho, South Dakota, Kansas, Indiana, and West Virginia — maintain an outright prohibition on the drug.

Which states will be next to legalize pot?

Vermont, Rhode Island, and Delaware seem most likely.

The measure passed the Vermont Senate last year, but failed in the House. Advocates are hoping critics will come around this year. The governor of Rhode Island said she’d seriously consider it if it passed in Massachusetts, which it did. And in Delaware, 61% of voters support legalizing recreational pot, with plans underway to introduce a bill this year.

New Jersey and Maryland have been flirting with the idea, but Republican governors have threatened to veto the legislation.

According to a national survey by Pew Research Center, 75% of Americans believe the sale and use of marijuana will eventually be legal nationwide (Spoiler Alert: It will be.), but the current administration is not accommodating.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has nothing but criticism for cannabis, and in most cases, those criticisms are wildly inaccurate.

“I don’t think America is going to be a better place when people of all ages, and particularly young people, are smoking pot,” Sessions said recently. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice, and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and we’re seeing real violence around that.”

Simply put, NOTHING about this statement is true. To the contrary, legalization so far has been associated with lower youth use rates and access, increased tax revenue, and fewer arrests of otherwise law abiding American citizens.

You’d be hard-pressed to find any real data that suggests otherwise.

For that reason, nationwide cannabis legalization is inevitable.

Some 31 states are currently facing budget deficits. So, too, is the federal government. And as Colorado, Washington, and others have demonstrated, legalization means a lot of green.

If Delaware legalizes pot, it won’t be long before Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey get tired of watching their residents drive across state lines to spend tens of millions of dollars. States are going to keep falling like dominoes and the federal government will fold on the issue as soon as it reaches critical mass.

It’s pretty much a guarantee, at this point, that whoever runs against Donald Trump in 2020 will distinguish themselves by taking a softer stance on marijuana. Bernie Sanders already started that ball rolling, and he picked up droves of young voters as a result. And three years from now, pot will be legal in at least five, and as many as nine, more states.

Of course, investors don’t even have to wait that long to profit. They can get ahead of the rush by buying pot stocks now. Many are still trading for less than $5 per share, and their value is likely to explode as each state jumps on the bandwagon.

Just remember to be careful.

The cannabis industry abounds with unprepared upstarts and outright frauds that will ultimately flame out.

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