It's a setback for cannabis businesses in the United States - but it may be just a temporary one.
MassRoots, a social platform where users "share cannabis experiences, meet like-minded people in your area, and stay up to date with local dispensaries and businesses," received word yesterday that their application for listing was denied. They filed the application in August of last year.
The Nasdaq determined the cannabis platform, which has 900,000 users, could be seen as "aiding and abetting" the distribution of a plant that remains illegal under federal law. In a statement, MassRoots CEO Isaac Dietrich described the decision as a "dangerous precedent" that stands to "prevent nearly every company in the regulated cannabis industry from listing on a national exchange."
Dietrich also said there is precedent for listing companies that deal with a connection to the cannabis industry.
"The Nasdaq has already listed at least 3 biotechnology companies that extract compounds from the cannabis plant for scientific research – actually touching the plant as part of their business model," adding that alcohol and tobacco companies, too, cause far more social harm than cannabis companies, yet are consistently approved for listing.
MassRoots has requested the denial in writing, and plans to appeal the staff decision to the Nasdaq Listing and Qualifications Board. They're asking cannabis supporters and investors to write a brief note to the Nasdaq in support of their planned appeal here.