Canada may be in the lead when it comes to cannabis but 2019 should finally be the year when the United States legalizes medical marijuana, says Kevin Murphy, CEO of US cannabis company Acreage Holdings (Acreage Holdings CSE:ACRG.U).
Acreage made the news a couple of days ago when it revealed that its proposed Super Bowl ad was rejected by CBS, something that Murphy says was disappointing.
“We don’t begrudge CBS. We understand that [cannabis] remains federally illegal in the United States. It’s still a Schedule 1 drug,” says Murphy, in conversation with CNBC.
“Our view was to put it forth, to educate —not necessarily the people of the United States because there’s a lot of buy-in for the medical use of cannabis— but it’s really a call to action for the people of the United States to get Congress and the Senate to pass the appropriate laws to make it available for veterans, for children with epilepsy, for people with cancer.”
Below: The Rejected Ad
New York-based Acreage has cannabis cultivation, production and retail interests in 19 states, including Ohio which just recently opened its doors to medical marijuana. Currently, there are 33 states in which medical cannabis has been legalized and ten of those have also legalized recreational cannabis use.
Legalizing medical cannabis at the federal level would be beneficial to US companies, says Murphy.
“I believe 2019 is going to be the year. I believe it’s going to take place through the STATES Act which is essentially a bill that strengthens the 10th Amendment and that would enable [cannabis businesses in states where medical cannabis is legal] to function as legitimate businesses within the US. They would have access to banking, they would have the privilege of a fair tax code. I think that it’s going to take place sooner rather than later,” he says.
With Canada having legalized medical cannabis in 2001 and then recreational use this past year, Murphy says that Canada’s leadership on the issue is having a positive influence on the US.
“Extraordinary impact,” he says. “The Canadians, part of the G7, a thought leader. We’re certainly proud of the Canadians.”
“From our vantage point, Canada is leading not only on the compassionate care side, they’re also leading in the capital markets aspect of this, and the Israelis are leading on the research side of it,” he says. “The United States has been a leader in so many different things but today, sadly, the US is so woefully behind in their compassionate care with cannabis