What will 2012 bring to the medical cannabis industry? Here are the top five questions MMJ Business Daily is focusing on:
#1. Will the federal crackdown continue and grow in scope?
The government’s coordinated campaign to crack down on dispensaries was easily the biggest MMJ news of 2011, leading to a huge contraction in the industry and creating a precarious situation for medical pot businesses. It’s unclear just how far the government plans to go in this regard, but officials have indicated that their recent moves are only the beginning of a larger effort. The feds, for instance, recently said they are considering setting their sights on Colorado next. And speaking of Colorado…
#2. Will Colorado become the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use?
It appears that this issue will make it on the November ballot, giving voters the chance to pass legislation allowing the general use of marijuana by adults. Marijuana has long had strong support in the state, but residents rejected a similar measure several years ago.
It’s unclear what would happen even if the initiative passes, given that pot is still illegal federally. But organizers behind the effort say it would be a big plus for the medical marijuana industry as a whole.
#3. Will Arizona’s MMJ industry get off the ground?
The state’s medical marijuana program has been in limbo since last spring, when Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer essentially put the brakes on the licensing process for dispensaries. Brewer has been vocal in her opposition to medical marijuana, and she was the key force behind a lawsuit that could bury the state’s MMJ program entirely. At this point, the state is still registering medical marijuana patients, but no dispensaries are up and running to provide them with cannabis. We’ll likely get some kind of resolution in 2012, though it’s hard to say what the outcome will be at this point.
#4. Will other states pass medical marijuana laws?
Several states – including Florida, Massachusetts and Illinois – are considering legalizing MMJ or putting the idea to voters in 2012. Getting more states on board would help the larger cause, as it would be harder for the federal government to justify its position against the drug. If none of these states passes MMJ legislation, however, the medical pot movement would lose a great deal of momentum.
#5. Will the presidential election have an effect on the medical marijuana industry?
President Barack Obama has received mixed reviews from the MMJ crowd, with opinions of him souring significantly in the past few months as the government cracked down on the industry. Observers say the crackdown is a posturing move by Obama ahead of the election, as he wants to blunt criticism that he let the medical marijuana industry get out of control. He could move further in this direction by escalating the crackdown.
More importantly, however, is the impact of the election itself on the industry. Some candidates have come out in support of medical marijuana, and if someone from this group is elected it could mean good things for the industry. If Obama wins, however, it might be a mixed bag, as he has sent confusing messages about his stance on MMJ.