Celebrations surrounding the launch of the California recreational marijuana market seemed to end almost as quickly as they began this year. From the dissolution of the Cole Memo to how states and citizens are fighting back, keep your pulse on the latest developments in marketing and marijuana news with MaJor Group.
Marijuana News to Know in 2018
Lawmakers in favor of cannabis—or those whose constituents were—spent the majority of their last year fighting to protect their states’ regulated marijuana industries. Until now, most of the fight has been behind closed doors; all of that changed on January 8, 2018.
When US Attorney General rolled back Obama-era protections directing US Attorneys not to unduly interfere with cannabis operations in states with frameworks for regulation, the cannabis industry community members, businesses, and investors reacted swiftly and decisively with the same message: cannabis is here to stay.
The cannabis community pushes back against Sessions on Capitol Hill
Since, or despite Sessions’ aggression toward the cannabis industry, advocates and legislators have come out of the woodwork from both sides of the aisle to fight back against the attorney general.
Voters in almost thirty states and the District of Columbia have some kind of regulated marijuana market, whether for patients or recreational consumers. In fact, as of January 2018, more than 100 million Americans have access to legal cannabis in some form or another.
In this sense, Sessions’ aggression toward the cannabis industry seems to have touched a nerve on both on and off Capitol Hill. More lawmakers represent voters who have approved weed than ever, which means that these legislators have a stake in ensuring their states are protected.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Senator Cory Booker, who is one of the most vocal proponents of rescheduling cannabis, noted the furor of states’ rights advocates on the right.
“I’m hopeful that this action is going to have a powerful reaction,” he said. “This is a movement that’s going to happen, and I’m glad to see I’ve got partners on the Republican side of the aisle that are very animated on this issue.”
Nevada Congresswoman helps lead the charge to protect legal cannabis
Democratic Congresswoman from Nevada, Jacky Rosen announced her sponsorship of a bi-partisan bill aimed at protecting recreational marijuana markets in states where they are legally regulated. The Bill, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act (H.R. 975) would apply many of the protections outlined in the 2013 Cole Memo and could help protect against federal prosecution for legal marijuana businesses in Nevada.
Rosen, who supports the right of states to make their own distinctions about cannabis consumption, contributed to the creation of H.R. 975 as a protective measure for states like Nevada.
“Nevada’s legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016 has resulted in millions of dollars in new revenue for Nevada’s state budget and thousands of new jobs that have helped grow our local economy,” Rosen told reporters the day of the H.R. 975’s announcement. “Voters here made the decision to legalize recreational marijuana, and that should be respected as the law of the land in Nevada.”
Voters push back as a ninth state goes recreational
Fresh off the heels of Sessions’ industry-rocking announcement, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed the first cannabis-related bill to be legalized through the state legislature.
The move was called a direct criticism of Jeff Sessions actions, according to Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
“Vermont is standing up to the regressive, harmful policies coming out of Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department,” she said.“Other states and policymakers should follow suit, and keep pressing for marijuana reforms that are supported by a vast majority of the public.”
Despite persistent federal prohibition, cannabis remains easily accessible, even when there are no legal frameworks of regulation is in place. According to a recently released report from the Drug Policy Alliance, states with legal marijuana markets have been effective at controlling marijuana and protecting public health and safety through comprehensive regulatory frameworks, like those in Nevada.
What happens in a state with legal marijuana markets? Savings, apparently.
According to the Drug Policy Report, the establishment of legal cannabis markets—and legal frameworks to regulate and enforce regulation—have improved the economy and the communities of the states they’re in.
When a state legalizes marijuana:
- Cannabis-related arrests plummet, thus, saving states millions of dollars and preventing the criminalization of thousands.
- Marijuana use among youth doesn’t increase, and by some reports actually decreases.
- Noticeable reduction in the number of in opioid overdose deaths and untreated opioid use disorders.
- An overall decline in the number of DUI arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs.
Overwhelming public support and regulatory successes in state-legalized markets make it clear that the question is no longer whether states should legalize marijuana but rather how they should go about it.
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As more states fall in line with voters’ wishes, make sure your cannabis business is ready to expand by working with an experienced marijuana consulting firm with the cross-channel expertise you’ll need in an increasingly competitive space.