Quarantine's Cannabis Binge Lifts Hope for Federal Legalization – Bloomberg Law

The vlogger on WeedTube seemed to capture the moment. The woman, who posts as @indicawife, told viewers last month that she’d spent some of her $1,200 stimulus check at the local cannabis dispensary.

“We’re all going to be smoking a fat blunt with Donald Trump’s money,” she said as she took a puff. “That’s a bet.”

Social distancing at a marijuana dispensary in Oakland, California, on March 23.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

There’s a lot to be depressed about as a lethal virus spreads, leaving economic devastation and political division in its wake. But these difficult days haven’t been awful for the up-and-down cannabis industry.

With nine in 10 Americans approving of either medicinal or recreational use, more than 20 states deeming medical or recreational sales “essential” businesses during the pandemic shutdown, and Americans using more weed than usual while they’re quarantined, advocates say the crisis will push the federal government to follow the lead of 33 states and legalize cannabis faster than it would have.

The coronavirus has changed the landscape, they say. Governments, revenue-poor after months of lockdown, have an impetus to tap a marijuana tax and expand employment opportunities. Ben Kovler, of Green Thumb Industries Inc., compared the situation with the end of Prohibition during the Great Depression.

“This is Prohibition 2.0,” said Kovler, the Chicago-based cannabis company’s chief executive officer. “It’s a time of uncertainty and high stress on the consumer side, and on the government side, there are economic issues.”

The virus altered the trajectory of cannabis stocks, too. They were languishing near record lows when stay-at-home orders began. In just the last two months, shares are up 66%.

Americans spent $12.4 billion on legal recreational and medical cannabis in 2019, according to Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics, a number

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