What happened

After a rough Tuesday, shares of marijuana stocks are on fire again today, with both Canopy Growth (NASDAQ:CGC) and Aurora Cannabis (NASDAQ:ACB) rising 4%, and HEXO (NYSE:HEXO) stock up 6.5% as of 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday.

In fact, smaller marijuana stocks seem to be doing better than their larger brethren. OrganiGram Holdings (NASDAQ:OGI), for example, is also notching a 6% gain, and Green Thumb Industries (OTC:GTBIF) is tacking on 7%. And you can send your thank-you notes to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat.

Marijuana plants

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

As CNBC reported on Tuesday, Schumer gave marijuana stocks a big boost when he chose the significant date for pot enthusiasts to reiterate his calls for legalizing marijuana in the U.S. at the federal level.  

"I believe the time has come to end the federal prohibition on marijuana in this country," Schumer said, adding that "hopefully, the next time this unofficial holiday, 4/20, rolls around, our country will have made progress in addressing the massive overcriminalization of marijuana in a meaningful and comprehensive way."

Now what

On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 321 to 101 to pass legislation permitting banks to provide financial services to marijuana companies in states where sale of the drug has been legalized. In 16 states and the District of Columbia, it's already legal on a recreational basis, and 36 states allow it for medicinal purposes.  

The vote by the House is a clear boost for marijuana companies. The next step will be for the Senate to pass similar legislation, either echoing the House's language or broadening it to provide nationwide permission for banking services -- at which point legislation can head to President Joe Biden's desk for signing.

While passage is not yet certain, the overwhelming support for the legislation in the House, and a strong vote of confidence from the leader of the majority party in the Senate, suggest the chances for legalization this year are indeed improving.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.