Week in Review: Marijuana Makes Gains in NH, OR & VT, But California Cannabis Industry Regresses

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Dispensaries open on the East Coast. Hundreds of mayors ask the Obama administration to back off when it comes to marijuana. Several states advance key cannabis legislation.

The marijuana industry made solid gains across the country last week on many fronts, giving more weight to the argument that the nation has truly turned a corner when it comes to cannabis. More often than not, it seems, the positive developments outweigh the negative for the marijuana industry.

Some highlights last week:

– The first two dispensaries in Vermont have finally opened their doors, two years after the state approved a law allowing such centers to exist and roughly a decade after officials first approved the use of medical cannabis. The move sets up an active, state-legal medical marijuana marketplace, moving Vermont into the business side of the MMJ equation. Medical Marijuana Business Daily estimates that the industry will generate roughly $2 million in annual cannabis sales initially. Vermont is the fourth state over the past eight months to open dispensaries, following Arizona, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

– The United States Conference of Mayors unanimously passed a resolution urging the federal government to let states decide how to handle medical cannabis and marijuana in general, joining the growing chorus of lawmakers around the country who want the Obama administration to stay out of the issue on a local level. The group of mayors said in the resolution that “enforcing the costly and ineffective prohibition on marijuana drains limited resources that could be better spent on programs that more effectively serve the public and keep our cities safe from serious and violent crime.”

InStoryFactbookAd– The legislature in New Hampshire passed a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state and allow four dispensaries to sell cannabis. The bill now sits at the desk of the governor, who has said she will sign it. If that happens, New Hampshire will become the 20th state with MMJ laws.

– In Maine, lawmakers signed off on a measure to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for the prescription of medical marijuana, which will increase the customer base for the state’s eight dispensaries.

– In Oregon, a bill to legalize and regulate dispensaries squeaked through the House and moved on to the Senate, where a committee passed a revised version of the measure over the weekend. (Roughly 200 dispensaries currently exist but are technically illegal under the state’s MMJ law.) The full Senate will likely vote on it today or tomorrow. The state’s legislature also has passed two bills that reduce penalties for for some marijuana offenses.

– Medical marijuana supporters in Florida indicated last week that they are gearing up to submit a petition to legalize MMJ in the state via a ballot measure in 2014. The group behind the move will need to collect a whopping 700,000 valid signatures to get the measure in front of voters, and the bill must receive 60% of the vote to become law. If the effort is successful, Florida would become the first state in the South to legalize medical cannabis.

Of course, the news isn’t entirely rosy (this is the medical cannabis industry, after all). In California, an estimated 200 dispensaries have closed in the past two months, and hundreds more will likely meet the same fate as the year progresses. The business conditions in the state are extremely volatile, making California one of the most difficult spots in the country to run an MMJ operation.

Other top stories in MMJ Business Daily last week:

Growing Opportunities Abroad for US Cannabis Firms

Number of MMJ Businesses in Colorado Stabilizes, But Patient Total Down

Aaron Smith: Securing a Future for the Cannabis Industry