Sep 19, 2019

Democrats, the party of pot

Beto O'Rourke is interviewed in the spin room after last week's debate in Houston. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Joining other 2020 Democrats, Beto O'Rourke released Thursday an "End the War on Drugs" proposal to legalize marijuana "and begin to repair the damage [the war on drugs] has done to communities of color."

Why it matters: The issue reflects how fast 2020 Democrats have moved toward their base. Legalizing marijuana, with a focus on social justice, unites the field, per the N.Y. Times.

Context: Once politically dangerous, "legal marijuana has become something of a de facto platform plank for the 2020 Democratic candidates: All support either legalizing or decriminalizing its use," per USA Today:

  • Joe Biden "is the highest-profile candidate who stops short of full legalization."

How it works: O'Rourke's plan "includes granting clemency to those currently serving sentences for marijuana possession" and " building a model for marijuana regulation similar to how alcohol is regulated."

  • With a federal tax on the marijuana industry, O'Rourke wants to "guarantee that opportunities to profit from a regulated marijuana market are made available to communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs."

Go deeper: Where the top 2020 Democrats stand on criminal justice reform

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The SAFE Act's House passage isn't enough to rescue flailing pot stocks

Data:; Chart: Axios Visuals

Marijuana advocates scored a big win Thursday with the passage of the SAFE Act through the U.S. House of Representatives, but the market was less enthusiastic.

What it means: The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act would allow marijuana companies to more easily do business with federally insured banks in the U.S.

Go deeperArrowSep 27, 2019

The high times may have passed for marijuana stocks

A marijuana growth facility in Maryland. Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Marijuana stocks have fallen hard in 2019 and short sellers have been increasing their positions, betting the sector is overvalued and primed for further losses. Despite the passage of the SAFE Act through the House last week, Wall Street remains bearish on companies dealing in the drug.

The latest: Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts Christopher Carey and Lisa Lewandowski downgraded Canada's Canopy Growth, the world's largest marijuana company, to neutral from buy, saying Wall Street expectations are "far too high."

Go deeperArrowOct 1, 2019

How marijuana laws may be contributing to vaping illnesses

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A mysterious vaping-related lung illness has now afflicted more than 1,000 people and killed at least 21 — and America's patchwork approach to marijuana law is probably part of the problem.

The big picture: Most of these lung illness cases involve people who vaped THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and many of those pods are believed to have come from the black market. A more cohesive regulatory scheme could help consumers know what to trust.

Go deeperArrowOct 9, 2019