The medical marijuana industry celebrated a big win in Nevada last week after lawmakers pushed through a bill that will create a thriving cannabusiness community in the state.
Hundreds of medical marijuana operations – from dispensaries and cultivation sites to edibles manufacturers and ancillary firms – will crop up in the coming years, generating millions of dollars in revenues. In fact, some entrepreneurs – anticipating the bill’s passage – already leased warehouse space and now plan to begin moving seeds and small plants into the facilities as they work on getting a license from the state.
But Nevada is only one battlefield in the larger MMJ war. The industry is hoping to ride the momentum as it turns its attention to New York, where the fate of a bill to legalize medical marijuana and create a network of dispensaries will likely come down to the wire.
The measure cleared the Assembly last month by a wide margin, fueling optimism. An identical version of the bill, however, has languished in the Senate, which has not yet held a hearing on the issue despite overwhelming support for medical marijuana among New York residents.
Getting New York on board the cannabis train would cement the industry’s hold on the East Coast and add another big, influential market to the mix.
But the clock is ticking: The current session is scheduled to wrap up on Thursday, giving the Senate little time to debate medical marijuana. That has some industry insiders worried that the measure will die quietly without a vote.
Still, it’s not uncommon to see lawmakers push through a variety of bills in the 11th hour. And New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently indicated that he would consider extending the session – possibly even into next week – if lawmakers fail to reach a compromise on several key issues.
At this point, it’s hard to put odds on the bill’s chance of passage – in part because supporters have been relatively silent in recent weeks. We should have a better read on the situation over the next 48 hours.
Also last week, Canada’s health department revealed plans to overhaul the nation’s medical marijuana policies to address concerns over the unexpected growth in the number of MMJ patients and residents cultivating marijuana at home.
Existing dispensaries and other types of medical marijuana businesses – including US-based vendors who provide products and services to the industry – will have to operate in a completely different climate, as the rules of the game will change. That will create some upheaval and casualties.
The development underscores the risks and volatile nature of the medical marijuana industry as governments try to figure out the best way to regulate this relatively new business. Many US-based medical marijuana companies can relate, as laws and regulations change on a frequent basis at the state and local levels.
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