As you undoubtedly already know, voters in several states have decided to make marijuana legal in some shape or form over the last couple of years. In some states, only medical marijuana is legal, and only oils and edibles are available. Others have fully legalized pot for recreational use, and business is booming. A report by Arcview Market Research found that cannabis consumers spent more than $6.9 billion – yes BILLION – on legal marijuana-related purchases in 2016.
But it is not all smooth sailing. Lawmakers in several states are doing everything they can to delay, or derail, many of the new laws.
- In Arkansas, House lawmakers voted unanimously to postpone the deadline for establishing the state’s new medical marijuana program.
- The North Dakota Senate unanimously voted to pass emergency legislation to postpone the enactment of the Compassionate Care Act to regulate the distribution of medical marijuana.
- In Florida, the Department of Health is trying to change parts of Amendment 2 to limit which illnesses can be treated with medical marijuana and to limit the number of cannabis producers in the state.
- Massachusetts lawmakers are debating making changes to the state’s law which include raising the retail sales tax and limiting how many plants can be grown in people’s homes. They have already delayed the production and sale of retail marijuana by six months.
- In Maine, lawmakers in the State Senate and House are endorsing emergency legislation to delay the start of retail sales for at least three months.
There are also questions about how the Trump administration will handle this nationwide shift towards legalization. The Obama administration told the Department of Justice not to spend resources enforcing federal drug laws in states that had legalized it on the local level. Trump could have the DOJ issue “cease and desist” letters to growers and distributors, he could push to legalize the drug at the federal level or find some middle ground. There is no hint yet as to what the path will be. In the meantime, states with new laws will continue struggling to figure out how to make this new normal work for them.