Marijuana News Today: New York Marijuana Legalization One Step Closer

marijuana news today 1 august
iStock.com/Rex_Wholster

Marijuana News Today

The marijuana news today is a return to form, with another major victory in the war on anti-marijuana legislation.

It’s a well-worn process we’ve seen play out countless times; there’s medical marijuana legalization, followed by decriminalization for casual use, followed by recreational marijuana legalization. It appears that New York State is following that pattern, with New York recreational marijuana legalization likely not far ahead.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced that nearly all prosecution of marijuana possession and smoking would cease, with enforcement instead being focused on drug sales and on people who pose a  “significant threat to public safety.”

The new policy is projected to curb the number of prosecutions for marijuana by 96%, slashing the annual caseload from about 5,000 to fewer than 200, according to a press release that followed the announcement.

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Vance said that the “needless criminalization of pot smoking” prevents prosecutors from being able to carry out their duties, and he urged lawmakers to legalize marijuana fully.

“Our research has found virtually no public safety rationale for the ongoing arrest and prosecution of marijuana smoking, and no moral justification for the intolerable racial disparities that underlie enforcement,” said Vance. (Source: “Manhattan DA announces end of ‘needless criminalization of pot smoking‘,” The Hill, July 31, 2018.)

“Tomorrow, our Office will exit a system wherein smoking a joint can ruin your job, your college application, or your immigration status, but our advocacy will continue.”

This follows New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policy shift last month that saw New York police officers pivot to writing tickets for public marijuana use versus making arrests.

The overall effect is that New York is clearly gearing itself toward a more marijuana-friendly position. As it stands, New York marijuana laws permit medical pot use in the state but not recreational use.

But as I outlined above, this is clearly another incremental step on the way to full-on legalization. It’s the same procedure we’ve seen play out numerous times across the country (and the world, really).

New York marijuana legalization would, of course, benefit pot stocks massively. It is among the richest and most populous states in America. The expansion of marijuana into the Empire State would be a huge win for marijuana stocks.

Now, it’s worth tempering our expectations somewhat, since we could still be years away from New York marijuana legalization.

Whether by direct ballot or through an act of the state legislature, there is nothing yet that indicates that recreational marijuana legalization is just around the corner.

But it is clearly coming. That much is without dispute. Every state that has followed this path has inevitably ended up with full legalization.

As I’ve long said, each state that legalizes marijuana only pushes the needle closer to the endpoint where the federal U.S. government will eventually be: left with no choice but to seriously rethink its current marijuana legislation.

Marijuana Stock Performances

The marijuana news today on the pot stock market is a mixed bag, especially in comparison to the major win we’re seeing in New York marijuana legalization.

The following stock chart shows the performance of Aurora Cannabis Inc (OTCMKTS:ACBFF, TSE:ACB) in black, Cronos Group Inc (NASDAQ:CRON) in blue, and Tilray Inc (NASDAQ:TLRY) in red.

Chart courtesy of StockCharts.com

Aurora Cannabis Stock News

The first stock we’ll take a look at, Aurora Cannabis, is coming off of the biggest acquisition deal in marijuana history, in which the company bought out MedReleaf (OTC:MEDFF, TSE:LEAF).

Now among the largest players in the legal marijuana industry, Aurora Cannabis stock has been unable to turn the most recent acquisition into short-term gains.

While by no means making the deal a bad one, Aurora Cannabis stock has not had an easy time in 2018. Its most recent acquisition was—investors hoped—going to help turn things around. That has not been the case, however.

In fact, throughout this year, Aurora has not been shy in terms of acquisitions. Those acquisitions, however, have not translated into significant stock gains.

In the past week, the stock price is down about seven percent, but that is in keeping with industry trends.

But to start this week, Aurora Cannabis is on a bit of a mini run. The stock is up nearly five percent over the past two days while several other companies in the marijuana sector are also starting to make up lost ground.

This could mean that the correction is over, but we’ll have to wait and see if August will be the pot market’s salvation, or if this was just a tease.

Cronos Group Stock News

Another company up on the week so far is Cronos Group Inc.

CRON stock has jumped about two percent in the past two days. While not as flashy as Aurora Cannabis stock, those gains are solid, considering the damage that has been done to the marijuana sector in July.

It’s worth noting that Cronos stock came out of the most recent correction better than most, taking only a seven percent hit to its stock value, compared to a 23% drop for Aurora.

Cronos is in one of the better positions at the moment, but that could all change in a flash. The stock tends to be one of the more unpredictable and volatile ones on the market, due to its presence on the Nasdaq. That makes it a riskier play.

At the same time, that risk could lead to lucrative rewards if played correctly. Long-term, I’m fairly bullish on CRON stock, although I believe there are better options for investors within the marijuana industry.

Tilray Stock News

And now to a company on a completely different track: Tilray Inc.

Tilray stock is, of course, notable for being the first marijuana company to have its initial public offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq.

The result of that IPO was that TLRY stock gained nearly 80% in about a week, only to see investors wake up from the hype-induced daze. The stock is now down about 25% over the past seven days, and I expect that trend to hold.

Hype is great for that initial jump in value, but, at some point, investors realize that these gains are extreme. There’s nothing especially exciting about Tilray stock, other than its presence on the Nasdaq, and that’s showing in the stock’s volatility.

For any non-day traders, I would avoid getting too invested in TLRY stock at the moment, as investors are still looking to price the company appropriately.

Analyst Take

The marijuana news today showed us another step forward for marijuana legalization in the United States.

As the country continues to move toward legalization on a state-by-state basis, we’re going to hit a threshold in which the majority of states provide access to recreational pot while the federal government still deems it illegal.

That quagmire is going to necessitate action, and that action will come by way of federal marijuana legalization.

While the timeline is murky, I have no doubts in my mind that marijuana legalization in the U.S. is a certainty.