Dose the cannabis wave show signs of crumbling worldwide?
Living in a cannabis bubble, or working in the marijuana industry, we tend to see stories and memes that confirm our point view on the plant. The plant is wonderful, the plant can heal, the cannabis plant should be legalized around the world, THC should be removed from the Controlled Substance Act, and everyone in the world wants to see cannabis legalized, so what is the problem?
Germany and New Zealand just said, “hold my beer”.
In what caught the cannabis world by surprise, both Germany and New Zealand voted no on recreational cannabis measures, and by a good margin. Wait, what? There are people in the world that don’t want to see marijuana legalized, and it appears to be that there are a lot of them?
Germany, who many predicted would be worldwide powerhouse in the cannabis game, shocked many advocates for resoundingly voting no on a recreational marijuana ballot. While the German medical marijuana program is thriving with thousands of new patients a month, the recreational vote fell well short of advocates hopes. How did this happen?
As MJ BIZ Daily noted in their coverage:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right, Christian-democratic political alliance – the Union – opposes any liberalization.
The Social Democratic Party (SPD) is in favor of some reform – at least allowing experimental pilot programs – but cannabis reform has taken a back seat among Social Democrats who prefer to vote in tandem with their government coalition partner, the Union.
Without favorable votes from at least some members of the government coalition parties – which have a majority in parliament – no legalization scenario is possible.
Although most opposition parties are in favor of some type of legalization, they remain in the opposition and can’t agree on how that should be accomplished.
In New Zealand, the headline was a bit different as voters approved a measure to legalize euthanasia, a very liberal policy, but voted no to recreational marijuana. The vote in New Zealand was much closer than in Germany, 53% to 46% in favor, and having the support of the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. One interesting side note was that Prime Minister Ardern did not release her opinion on the measure before the vote, only saying after the bill was defeated that she had voted in favor of both referendums.
What Does It All Mean for the Cannabis Industry Now?
While the results threw a big bucket of cold water on the cannabis legalization wave, it does by no means end the push for legalization worldwide. Germany and New Zealand have historically been conservative nations, especially when it comes to drug laws. With the wave of nationalism sweeping the planet over the past 4 years, it is not as shocking to think that conservative, nationalistic countries are not yet ready for full-fledged recreational cannabis sales.
Two main forces will drive worldwide legalization. The first is the United States changing their stance on cannabis, and legalizing the plant. In some areas, due to the power of the US dollar and their strength of their financial system, as the US goes, so does the world. The UN cannot get a majority vote on changing the status of cannabis until the US changes it’s federal laws. The drug treaties signed by over 150 nations say cannabis is an illegal drug, and until there is no fear of financial repercussions from the United States, many nations will just sit on the sidelines until the US legalizes the plant. The risk/reward ratio for many nations to be on the wrong side of US drug laws and being barred from access to the financial systems in the US is just too great of a risk to take right now for just the marijuana plant. US legalization is the domino that needs to fall in order to change UN drug treaties and create a worldwide legal cannabis market that access to financial markets, shipping, and sales.
The second factor that will finally drive legalization worldwide is that many countries have depleted their financial reserves such as unemployment accounts and pension funds due to COVID-19 and the ensuing financial crisis. Towns, states, cities, and countries are in desperate need of tax revenue and jobs, and cannabis has held up extremely well during the past year as far as sales, jobs, and revenue. In the end, as always, money talks, and governments around the world need to find some, and fast. Legalizing and taxing cannabis is a great way to create tax revenue out of thin air, create jobs for areas desperate to send people back to work, and give people a healthier choice other than just alcohol or prescription meds.
Politicians need to re-elected at the end of each term, and voters tend to vote with their pocketbook and their jobs, so if a plant can create good jobs and tax revenue to fill back up the state’s coffers, then you can be sure that it will eventually happen. One great example is the state of Illinois and how they rolled out their recreational program, with over $100 million in tax revenue collected in just 10 months, it is a plan that New Jersey and Pennsylvania are desperate to copy as voters head to the polls to vote on legalizing recreational pot.
The cannabis industry got a splash of cold water in the face and a wake up call, but that by no means should make you think the Green Wave is ending anytime soon.
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