Cannabis CEOs Aren’t Betting On Federal Legalization Next Year, But That’s Not Stopping Them From Expanding

“This is a classic American story of states versus the federal government”

CEOs at the largest cannabis firms aren’t holding their breath for federal legalization in 2022.

But these CEOs, who represent nine of the largest US and Canadian publicly traded cannabis companies, told Insider that inaction by the US government wasn’t stopping them from growing their businesses. All the action, they said, is at the state level.

“This is a classic American story of states versus the federal government,” Green Thumb Industries CEO Ben Kovler told Insider. “It’s happened in many different ways, whether it’s alcohol, gambling, gay marriage, you name it. This is going to be a states-led process.”

In an October Gallup poll of 823 US adults, 50% of Republicans and nearly two-thirds of total voters said they supported legalization. A number of states legalized cannabis in the past year — including New York, New Jersey, and New Mexico — and are working on ironing out regulations to get dispensaries open, which could add millions of consumers to the legal market.

Kovler said he had positioned Green Thumb Industries to be independent of the need for federal change by expanding in states with legal markets for medical and recreational cannabis. The Chicago company operates 66 cannabis shops in 14 states and employs over 3,400 people. 

“We’re a big, growing American company paying American taxes, and we’re not able to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange — doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Kovler said.

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