First Colorado and Washington, then a few states on the East Coast?
That could very well be the case when it comes to marijuana legalization. Last week, lawmakers in Rhode Island and Maine announced plans to introduce bills that would legalize cannabis for adult use. Officials in Massachusetts and Vermont reportedly plan to do the same.
They’ll likely encounter some stiff resistance from their peers, as legalization remains a controversial topic. But all of those states already have medical marijuana laws in place, and support among residents is high. So there’s a reasonable chance at least one of the states will legalize marijuana next year, following the lead of Colorado and Washington.
That would represent a significant milestone for the legalization movement, representing the first time state lawmakers – rather than voters – approved the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.
Legalization creates a host of new business opportunities, not only for those who want to cultivate and sell cannabis but also for entrepreneurs wanting to provide support services and products such as legal assistance, consulting, pipes and hydroponics equipment.
It also, however, brings many unanswered questions, the biggest of which include:
– How will the federal government respond, and will it allow retail marijuana stores to open (as called for in the state laws)?
– How will the cultivation and sale of marijuana be regulated?
– How will legalization affect existing medical marijuana dispensaries and related businesses?
A clearer picture will develop over the next year as this plays out, but it might take much longer than that to get all the answers given that legalization is uncharted territory. Getting more states on board with legalization, however, will help convince the federal government to take a more hands-off approach.
Also last week, MMJ Business Daily offered up three dozen tips, lessons and takeaways from the National Marijuana Business Conference, which took place on Nov. 8 and 9 in Denver. Speakers touched on everything from marketing, banking and taxes to marijuana legalization and investing in the MMJ sector. The best part of the event? Seeing the biggest movers and shakers in MMJ get together to network, swap ideas and encourage each other after an extremely trying year.
In another noteworthy development, Arizona licensed its first dispensary last week, a promising sign for the state’s MMJ program. It’s still unclear when – and even if – the dispensary will open. Some state officials are challenging Arizona’s medical marijuana laws and hope to prevent MMJ centers from taking root, and a decision in a key court case on this issue should come soon. Until then, most dispensary operators are taking a wait-and-see approach.
Other top stories in MMJ Business Daily last week:
4 States and wrapup