Weekly Wrapup: Ryan’s Comments Muddle Election for Cannabis Industry + Nevada Dispensaries?

Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee, dropped a bombshell on Friday, telling a Colorado TV station that he believes states should have the right to decide whether to legalize medical marijuana.

The Congressman from Wisconsin made it clear that he is personally against MMJ legalization. But he said the federal government should step aside and defer to individual states on the issue. “This is something that is not a high priority of ours,”Ryan said during an interview on KRDO-TV.

This is exactly what the MMJ industry wants to hear – from the presidential candidates. The problem is that neither President Obama nor GOP nominee Mitt Romney hold this view. In fact, Ryan’s remarks seem to clash with Romney’s position on medical marijuana. In July, Romney made his strongest statements yet against medical cannabis and marijuana in general, indicating that he would take a hard line against the industry if he is elected.

As we wrote about last month, the medical marijuana industry is split over who to vote for this election. Many professionals will have a hard time checking Obama’s name in the ballot box, given the crackdown on MMJ under his watch. Romney could be a worse alternative, but his running mate’s comments add a new twist to the debate. If – as Ryan said – medical marijuana would not be a high priority under a Romney-led administration, then perhaps the Republican ticket is the better choice. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is the friendliest to MMJ, but he’s a long shot to win the race (and that’s an understatement: he’s currently pulling less than 5% of the vote in polls).

The fact that the main medical marijuana groups have not endorsed a candidate show just how tricky this election will be.

Also last week, a second lawmaker in Nevada requested a bill that would revise the state’s medical marijuana laws to make it easier for patients to obtain cannabis. Nevada is one of a handful of states that have MMJ laws but don’t allow dispensaries to exist, meaning patients must grow their own. The lawmakers seem interested in a highly regulated dispensary model and are looking to other states to determine what works and what doesn’t.

While the number of registered registered marijuana patients in Nevada is relatively low, changes to the state’s MMJ laws could pave the way for dozens of new businesses directly and indirectly tied to the distribution of medical cannabis.

Other top stories in MMJ Business Daily last week:

Montana Medical Marijuana Patient Numbers Flat

Lawsuit in Arkansas Underscores Challenges in South

Guest Column: To Build Your Business, Get Outta the Basement