Growing Investor Interest, Corporate Recognition Indicate Increasing Legitimacy in Maturing Cannabis Market

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Once considered a fringe, high-risk market, the cannabis industry has made considerable strides toward legitimacy and more mainstream acceptance in the last decade. 

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To date, 36 states across the country have legalized medical cannabis and, of those states, 18 extended that legalization to recreational. It’s estimated that 71% of Americans now live where medical use is legal, and 46% live somewhere where recreational use is permitted.  

Even though the government has been slow to loosen federal restrictions on the plant, that overwhelming acceptance at the state and local level coupled with the cannabis market’s massive growth potential — the estimated compound annual growth rate stands at 26.5% over the next few years — has led to a surge in interest and support from investors and businesses.

With all this action going on, who are the ones eager to claim their piece of such explosive growth? Here are some of the latest developments in the private sector that have contributed to the cannabis industry’s growing legitimacy. 

Amazon Lobbies Congress for Legalization

In recent months, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) announced that it began actively lobbying Congress to pass a pair of cannabis legalization bills, including the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2021 and the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA). 

The MORE Act would remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances, expunge marijuana-related convictions from people’s records and effectively decriminalize and tax cannabis products nationwide. CAOA would, similarly, recognize legalization at the federal level, delete records and provide grants to help those targeted by harsh marijuana laws launch legal businesses in the newly legalized cannabis space. 

Amazon’s support for the bills comes as part of the company’s loosening of marijuana-related policies. In June, Amazon announced that it would no longer screen applicants for marijuana use unless they applied for a driver position. 

Apple Opens App Store to Cannabis Businesses

Another tech giant, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), announced last month that it would reverse an earlier restriction banning cannabis-related businesses from its App Store. The policy change allows cannabis companies to offer in-app ordering and transactions for customers in jurisdictions where cannabis sales are legal. 

Cannabis Companies Make More Frequent Appearance at Business Awards

Cannabis companies have traditionally been notably scarce among nominees and honorees at prestigious awards events like Money 20/20, Innovation award at CES, one of the world’s largest computer technology shows, and Inc.’s annual list of the fastest-growing companies in the United States. 

However, that’s finally starting to change. With Inc. 5000’s naming of Treez, an enterprise cloud platform tailored to cannabis companies, as one of the fastest-growing companies in America this year, and similar cannabis or cannabis-related businesses popping up on the lists of other awards events, it’s clear that business leaders are taking notice of the maturing cannabis industry.

The growing sense of legitimacy has been hard-won by cannabis companies working to remove the stigma around marijuana and establish themselves as mature, sound businesses in a market that’s here to stay. As this trend continues, it’s clear that hard work is starting to pay off. Entrepreneurs and investors alike are optimistic that the anticipated explosive growth potential of the cannabis industry can finally be realized.

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