Weekly Wrapup: Can MMJ Break into the South? + New Study on Effects of Marijuana Legalization

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Last week, we wrote about how MMJ advocates in Arkansas spent more than $400,000 at the end of October on TV ads to build support for a medical cannabis legalization measure.

The big question now: Is it enough to combat misleading claims about the measure, opposition from prominent leaders and an entrenched aversion to marijuana in a conservative region of the country?

That’s tough to say. Organizers certainly have their work cut out for them, given that the latest poll showed a gap of 16 percentage points between voters leaning for and against the measure.

But don’t write off Arkansas yet. There are several reasons for optimism despite discouraging poll numbers this close to the election:

#1. The last-minute advertising blitz will reach voters as they fill out their mail-in ballots or head to the polls, making the ads much more effective and increasing the chances residents will change their minds. The opposition, in comparison, did most of its outreach earlier in the fall and has done very little in the days leading up to the election.

#2. Many Arkansas voters seem willing to reconsider their stance on the MMJ measure. Polls taken in the summer and earlier in October showed much higher levels of support, with voters essentially split on the initiative. Opponents were able to gain a lot of traction in a relatively short amount of time last month. There’s nothing to indicate supporters can’t do the same.

#3. Voters sometimes say one thing when talking to pollsters about a controversial issue but act differently when casting their ballots in private. In a conservative area such as the South, some residents might feel awkward or uneasy saying they’ll vote for medical marijuana even if that’s exactly what they plan to do.

#4. The measure has received some additional influential support in recent days from various corners. Just last week, for instance, 12 clergy members from across the state publicly backed medical marijuana legalization.

This is an important battle for the industry, as it would open up the South to medical marijuana. Keep a close eye on it election night.

Also last week, we wrote about a new report that says marijuana legalization in Colorado, Oregon or Washington could significantly cut the profits of Mexican drug cartels. The reason: A fair share of marijuana produced in those states would illegally make its way to other areas of the country, replacing Mexican cannabis sold on the black market with a cheaper, higher-quality drug.

Both sides of the marijuana debate can use this report to bolster their cause. Marijuana supporters say it shows how legalization can end the flow of cannabis profits to Mexico and erode the power of violent cartels. Opponents, however, say the report backs their claims that these states would become major producers of marijuana for the rest of the country.

Given that the report was released by a Mexican organization that isn’t very well known in the US, however, it’s doubtful the study will have much impact on voters ahead of the elections.

Other top stories in MMJ Business Daily last week:

Montana Restrictions on Hold (Again)

WeGrow Franchise Sues Competitors

Harborside Hearing Pushed Back