There’s lots of movement on the US legal marijuana front, so we wanted to give you a quick rundown on all the latest developments. Here are four points to know (with links for more details):
#1 – Massachusetts, which legalized recreational marijuana in November 2016, just gave a company called Cultivate the first retail license to sell recreational cannabis at its existing medical marijuana dispensary. The store hopes to start selling retail cannabis within a few weeks, but its cultivation and manufacturing licenses are still pending. The commission also approved provisional cannabis manufacturing and transportation licenses for Sira Naturals, which will “allow the company to begin transporting its wholesale sold marijuana to other licensed marijuana businesses.”
July 1st was the target date for dispensaries to start selling retail marijuana, but regulatory obstacles pushed this back. One example is that all retail marijuana needs to be tested by an independent lab prior to sale, but no labs have yet been given a retail testing license. Bottom line, this is another important case study in all the regulatory nuances that go into setting up a legal framework for retail marijuana sales.
#2 – Using marijuana for recreational purposes is now legal in Vermont, making it the 9th state plus DC to allow it. In January, it became the first state to legalize retail use through its state legislature rather than as a ballot measure, and the bill just went into effect this past Sunday. Now adults can possess up to one ounce of marijuana, two mature and four immature plants. The law doesn’t include any mechanism for selling or taxing marijuana, but that is the next step for the legislature and we’ll keep you posted as things develop there.
New Jersey is another state working on legalizing recreational marijuana through its legislature. Governor Phil Murphy said he would do so within the first hundred days in office when he was campaigning. While it did not happen, Senate President Steve Sweeney said they are “rounding the corner on marijuana” and thinks it could get legalized by the end of August. In that case, sales “could start relatively quickly at existing medical dispensaries”.
#3 – Michigan residents will vote on whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana in November. Currently, a new poll shows people are split: 47% plan to vote no and 44% plan to vote yes. If it passes, it could be the tenth state to legalize recreational cannabis, or the eleventh if New Jersey legalizes it first by the end of this summer.
#4 – Oklahoma residents voted to legalize medical marijuana last week with 57% in favor, making it legal to use, sell and grow cannabis for medical purposes. This is significant not only because it is now the 30th state where medical marijuana is legal, but also because it is a conservative state where legalization faced lots of opposition for years. Utah will be the next state voting on legalizing medical marijuana in November. A recent survey shows two in every three Utah residents are in favor of the bill, according to a Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll. That’s down from 76% in a Tribune poll in January, but still solidly in the majority.
Bottom line, a record high (64%) percentage of Americans support marijuana legalization as of October 2017 according to Gallup. Even the majority of Republicans (51%) are in favor for the first time in the poll’s history. This sentiment is quickly translating into actions at the polls and now even through state legislatures. We strongly believe that the more progress recreational and medical marijuana make on a state level, the sooner it will be legalized nationally. We watch this disruptive multi-billion dollar industry closely because that’s when the floodgates for investment opportunities will open.