Friends, a few weeks ago, I wrote in these Cannabis Musings about how the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs could pose a roadblock to US federal legalization of non-hemp cannabis. (link) Although I can’t claim a connection, news came earlier this week that that UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs approved the World Health Organization’s recommendation to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the Single Convention, the treaty’s list of the most restricted substances. (link; link) Cannabis still remains on the treaty’s Schedule I, but the commentary in the reports suggests that this move opens the door to more research into the medical benefits of cannabis. This move by the UN doesn’t clear that roadblock, but perhaps this softening might change the geopolitical calculus for Congress (if any) if it finally takes up legalization (beyond the Democratic-controlled House, that is (link)).

Also this week, Cowen held its excellent annual Boston Cannabis Conference, this time virtually. Although no online conference ever fully replaces the in-person experience, viewers treated to a host of business updates, industry perspectives, and policy prognostications (Contra (link)).

My personal takeaway from the conference is that there’s a renewed confidence in the industry, buoyed by strong consumer demand throughout the pandemic, improved public markets valuations, November state ballot initiative wins, and looser capital markets spigots. This message was championed by industry executives, who seemed to be breathing a collective sigh of relief after the fiscal industry turmoil of the second half of 2019. I heard many predictions that the SAFE Banking Act will pass in 2021, a take I don’t necessarily share (link). What I do agree with is the general consensus I heard that expansion (including through consolidation) is top of mind for the industry in the next year (more on my year-end predictions in a few weeks).

Let’s hope the positive industry trends continue into the new year and we’re all able to meet again in person at these vital conferences.