It was a banner year for cannabis legislation in the US. As of last October, 30 states have made it legal to use cannabis for medicinal purposes. Recreational cannabis was impacted as well, it is now legal to take for pleasure in 8 states.
New Cannabis Laws
After an unprecedented election cycle, there are several new cannabis-related laws on the books. Some of them include:
● Changes in state taxes on retail cannabis sales. It is now 2.5% in Massachusetts, 10% in Maine, and 15% in both Nevada and California.
● Nevada residents can legally possess up to one ounce of recreational cannabis. In fact, dispensaries in Nevada are entering to a new level of development and are growing fast.
● Licensed cannabis growers can now sell pot in Colorado
● In California, it’s now legal for adults aged 21 and older to have up to an ounce of cannabis in their possession. They can also grow as many as 6 plants on their property.
● Cannabis aficionados in Maine can legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis. This is more than double the limit of the other cannabis-friendly states.
● It is now legal for Massachusetts residents to carry and consume small amounts of cannabis. They can also grow up to 12 plants on their property.
In Other Cannabis-Related Government News
To gain an in-depth view of the future of cannabis legalization, we must also discuss the election of Donald Trump. While he was on the campaign trail, he said that cannabis legislation should be up to each state. Since Trump has become President, his stance on cannabis has become confusing, and to a degree, antagonistic.
From what White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says, the President considers medical and recreational cannabis to be two separate issues. Furthermore, with the opioid epidemic spiraling out of control, the administration doesn’t believe that cannabis use should be encouraged at all.
Their current stance contradicts new evidence surrounding the opioid problem in the US. This study suggests that cannabidiol (non-psychoactive element in cannabis) can actually help those who suffer from opioid addiction. In fact, there are some experts who believe that it can make a major contribution to the reduction of the opioid crisis.
As of right now, cannabis doesn’t seem to be a big button issue for President Trump. And, we can expect any effort to roll back cannabis rights to be faced with a hard fight from local lawmakers and their constituents.
For instance, a Republican Congressman from California recently introduced a bill in the House of Representatives called the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017. It effectively blocks President Trump (or any future administration) from messing with states where cannabis is legal.
And, can you blame him? The states where cannabis has been legalized have seen a dramatic increase in revenue. In 2015 alone, legal cannabis added over $2 billion to Colorado’s economy. It also created 18,000 full-time jobs. Moreover, it is estimated that the cannabis industry will generate over $20 billion in sales within the next four years.
Where To Expect New Cannabis Legislation in the Future
Regardless of the Administration’s current stance, we can expect more changes regarding cannabis in America’s future. In fact, over 20 states are currently considering some type of cannabis related bill. Some of them include:
● Texas: Lawmakers are interested in decriminalizing marijuana.
● Virginia: The governor has voiced his desire to make recreational cannabis available to his constituents this year. Furthermore, lawmakers have filed a bill to decriminalize cannabis.
● Tennessee: State representative plan to file a bill making cannabis available for medicinal purposes.
● Connecticut: State leaders are interested in legalizing recreational cannabis for adults over the age of 21.
● Rhode Island: Lawmakers have submitted legislation that would allow adults aged 21 and over to consume recreational cannabis.
● Wisconsin: This state already has a law that makes it legal for those who suffer from seizures to use cannabis extracts. Lawmakers are looking to expand the current program and legalize medical cannabis for other ailments.
● New Hampshire: The Senate Minority leader is interested in making cannabis legal for adults 21 and over.
● New York: The governor proposed a measure to decriminalize cannabis
● South Carolina: Lawmakers are interested in legalizing cannabis for medical conditions like cancer, PTSD, and autism.
● Missouri: An initiative that legalizes cannabis for adults aged 21 and over was met with approval recently. So, we can expect that voters in this state will soon get a chance to vote on the legalization of both recreational and medical cannabis.
Based on the aforementioned monetary incentives and the fact that 1/5 of the population can now use cannabis for recreational purposes, the future of this healthful herb looks bright. Right now, the question is when, not if, the rest of the country will jump on the bandwagon.
Please be advised that laws and regulations frequently change; for this reason, we cannot verify the accuracy of this content. For up-to-date information on cannabis laws and regulations, please consult your local law enforcement, legal professionals, or the cannabis industry regulators for your state.
Isabella Wilson is a marketing specialist at Essence Cannabis Dispensary with a primary focus on development and implementation of marketing ideas. Her main talking points are medical and recreational marijuana, marijuana marketing and advertising.