US President, Joe Biden, pardoned thousands of minor cannabis possession convictions on Thursday, stating that the current system “makes no sense” and sending cannabis stocks soaring.
“As I’ve said before, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. Today, I’m taking steps to end our failed approach,” Biden said.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has been instructed to develop an “administrative process” for issuing certificates of pardon. Biden also advised the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to begin a study that would result in cannabis being removed from Schedule I.
More than 6,500 individuals are projected to be affected by the shift. Furthermore, Biden urged all governors to follow his example and forgive minor cannabis possession offenses at the state level.
The use of cannabis is legal in nearly 40 states, but is still illegal in some states and at the federal level. The reclassification of cannabis would be the first step towards wider legalization, a move backed by the majority of Americans, and it would bring sweeping changes for companies and law enforcement.
On Thursday, shares of Tilray, Canopy Growth, and Sundial Growers all rose more than 20% in response to the announcement. In early Friday dealings, several cannabis companies reduced their gains, while others rose marginally. After gaining more than 20% on Thursday, the Roundhill Cannabis ETF gained another 11% on Friday.
Despite the big gains in cannabis equities after Biden’s pronouncement, there is still a lot of distance to be covered. Even after factoring for Thursday’s increase, Tilray is still down 99% from its all-time high of $300 per share in 2018.
Nevertheless, Biden’s announcement is certainly a step in the right direction for the cannabis industry, both in the United States and for the world at large.
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