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Marijuana companies raised $116.8 billion in 2019, according to cannabis industry research firm Viridian Capital Advisors. We can expect this trend to continue, but important to the U.S. industry is also banking reform. Big banks are currently afraid of money laundering charges they may face if they work with these businesses. Besides the difficulty of getting capital, this means tremendous risks and inconvenience for companies operating in cash. The American Bankers’ Association has been pushing for more legal clarity and bridging the gap between federal and state law, and we could see banks warm up to cannabis if bills like the SAFE Banking Act are passed.

As Democrats have control of both the House and the Senate as well as the presidency, marijuana policy reform advocates are hopeful legislative change could occur on the federal level soon. Politico pointed out that, in 2019, 296 members of Congress (68%) represent the 33 states with at least medical marijuana, which means there are sufficient votes to pass long-awaited bills. There are already several bills in the new Congress pertaining to marijuana.

Changing Attitudes Toward Pot

Under federal rules, it is also illegal to market food products or dietary supplements that contain CBD, but the FDA indicated that may change in the future. In a December 2018 press release, it said, "Although such products are generally prohibited to be introduced in interstate commerce, the FDA has the authority to issue a regulation allowing the use of a pharmaceutical ingredient in a food or dietary supplement. We are taking new steps to evaluate whether we should pursue such a process." The statement was published after the Farm Bill legalizing the regulated production of hemp, another source of CBD was passed.

New Frontier Data estimates the market for CBD derived from hemp will grow from a $390 million-dollar market in 2018 to a $1.3 billion market—or 3.3x—by 2022. Brightfield Group says the hemp CBD market can reach as much as $22 billion by 2022. Defending its lofty prediction, Brightfield's managing director Bethany Gomez said, "We are a team of highly conservative analysts and we did not take this lightly – I honestly believe that these are conservative numbers. We have no rose-colored glasses in terms of the bizarre and challenging regulatory framework that surrounds this industry, it will always be two steps forward, one step back. There are sure to be some problematic regulations and bumps along the way. But there is too much momentum, too much demand, and too much potential for this industry not to explode."

Policy Reform

Marijuana has been used as a means of treating illnesses in different cultures for thousands of years. The federal law banning it in the U.S., the Marihuana Tax Act, was passed in 1937. There is now growing acceptance of the plant as a legitimate option for patients who suffer from medical problems like chronic pain or seizures in modern-day America.

Growing weed business

Narrator: Each of those manifests lists out exact turn-by-turn directions that Adrian has to follow on a delivery. Jeremy says that’s because regulators want to make sure no marijuana products go out the back door.

Narrator: In each new state it enters, Wana also has to follow different manufacturing and packaging laws. For one, the THC symbols stamped on the gummies come in all forms.

Nancy: Which essentially really removes our ability to scale.

Narrator: But the expensive regulations don’t just stop at the license. In Oregon, the government requires farms to have seed-to-sale tracking.

Adrian: I’ve been selling weed since high school. Got arrested for it, was on probation, did the whole nine. When I was getting fingerprinted for my license, it was just really weird, because I was like, man, the last time I’ve gotten fingerprinted, I was going to jail for selling pot, selling weed, and now I’m getting fingerprinted to get a license to sell it legally.

Adrian: One thing that I really wish would be allowed is inventory in our vehicle. Something like our hottest items in the trunk and the safe ready to go.

Jeannette: The regulations are really part of what layers on those costs.