Canadian cannabis companies are easy. Since October 17, they have been able to sell pot to adults under a single national law. The big US stock exchanges are happy to list Canadian manufacturers like
(ticker: CGC) and
It is more difficult for US cannabis businesses. American federal law still considers marijuana an illegal drug in the same class as heroin. Any financial service provided to a cannabis business may violate federal law. So the bankers of the Federal Reserve System, not to mention the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, will not touch a US business related to the cannabis plant. Weed outfits can't even deduct their business expenses under US tax code.
Fortunately, we have federalism. Since California legalized medical marijuana in 1996, 32 other states, plus the District of Columbia, have allowed medical marijuana. Now, 10 states have a permit for recreational use. Each state does it differently, but then the majority of operators such as Curaleaf (CURA.Canada) and Acreage (ACRG.U.Canada) have to pick up a regulatory hurdle course. And their shares can only trade on the thin Canadian securities exchange or
OTC Markets Group
In the United States
no one expects the US to legalize the pot soon. But some federal efforts are trying to let states do their thing. A Wednesday hearing before a sub-committee of the House Financial Services Committee dealt with the SAFE Banking Act, a bill that would allow banks to legally handle the proceeds of a state legal cannabis business. "Thousands of employees and businesses across the country have been forced to cope with money bubbles, while Congress puts its head in the sand," said the co-sponsor, Ed Perlmutter (D., Colo.).
A Patchwork Quilt of Regulation
Without federal approval, US companies face different rules in almost all states, here are state-to-state comparisons.
Government Approved Decriminalization
and Limited Access Medical
Government Approved Recreational /  Retail & Medical
State Approved Limited
State Approved Decriminalization