Two very different developments emerged in the MMJ industry at the end of last week, one immensely negative and one immensely positive for medical cannabis.
First, the bad news: The federal government shifted the focus of its crackdown from the West Coast to Colorado, demanding that nearly two dozen dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools shut down or relocate. Those that don’t comply with the mandate face prosecution and asset seizure. The government also threatened the dispensaries’ landlords, putting added pressure on the industry.
MMJ businesses in Colorado have been bracing for this since last month, when federal officials said they were considering expanding their medical pot crackdown to the state.
If this is the only action they take in Colorado, medical cannabis businesses should consider themselves lucky. The government has been much more aggressive in California, Washington and Montana, conducting numerous raids on dispensaries and related businesses over the past few months. It’s unclear what will happen next in Colorado, but raids are a distinct possibility, as the government characterized the warning letters sent to dispensaries and landlords as a “first step.”
It’s a particularly worrisome development given that Colorado has some of the toughest regulations in the country, which MMJ
observers said would help thwart a federal crackdown.
But the week ended on an extremely high note. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer ordered the state to begin accepting and processing
dispensary applications in the near future, a move that will offset much of the MMJ industry’s contraction by allowing dozens of new cannabis centers to open up.
The licensing program has been in a holding pattern since last spring – when it was scheduled to begin – and no dispensaries have been able to legally launch in the state. Arizona could now become another powerhouse in the MMJ industry, and tens of thousands of patients will soon be able to buy the drug.
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