MassRoots, a social network for cannabis enthusiasts, wanted to be the first cannabis industry company to list their shares on the NASDAQ exchange. This week, on Monday, May 23, 2016, they were officially denied by NASDAQ. It has been labelled a blow to the cannabis industry and cannabis entrepreneurs around the United States.

MassRoots released a press statement following the denial of their ambitious and bold attempt to take cannabis to a legitimate and legal level never seen before, with CEO Isaac Dietrich stating, “With this decision, the NASDAQ has set a dangerous precedent that will prevent nearly every company in the regulated cannabis industry from listing on a national exchange. This will have ripple effects across the entire industry, making it more difficult for cannabis entrepreneurs to raise capital and slow the progression of cannabis legalization in the United States. This decision must not be allowed to stand and we’re asking every cannabis investor, business, activist and supporter to write a brief note to the Nasdaq in support of our appeal here.”

MassRoots were told on Monday that their application had been denied on the grounds that they may be aiding abetting the distribution of an illegal substance. MassRoots will be appealing this decision is writing to the NASDAQ Listings and Hearing Review Panel. Assuming that appeal is denied, there is a second means of appeal through the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Discussing the stigma attached to the cannabis industry, MassRoots CEO Dietrich said, “If we were a social network for tobacco users or alcohol consumers, the NASDAQ would likely be moving forward on our application even though alcohol and tobacco cause far more deaths and societal damage than cannabis ever will. Moreover, the NASDAQ has already listed at least 4 biotechnology companies that extract compounds from the cannabis plant for scientific research – actually touching the plant as part of their business model,”

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He finished his statement by calling upon the American public for help in their cause. “We believe the Nasdaq has inappropriately denied our application and look forward to making our case not just to the Nasdaq Listing and Hearings Review Panel, but directly to the American public.”

It seems that unfortunately, although cannabis is legal in a handful of states for recreational use, until it is federally legal on some level, there is little to no chance of it being listed by NASDAQ or the New York Stock Exchange. The biotechnology companies mentioned in the statements are treated differently as they are being tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

While MassRoots have encouraged cannabis enthusiasts to “write a note to NASDAQ” here, a representative from NASDAQ told Business Insider that the company does not comment on listing applications.