With the arrival of the new year, states across the nation continued their march forward along the road to legalized cannabis sales and use.
Although the pace of change varies by state, with some states already embracing full legalization of both medical and recreational cannabis use, there is no shortage of change to the nation’s cannabis laws; not surprisingly, 2019 is also expected to be the most prosperous year to date for America’s burgeoning legal cannabis sector.
Here, then, is a brief First Quarter Executive Summary of just some of the most significant changes and updates in America’s legal cannabis industry:
- Washington State Governor Plans To Pardon Thousands Previously Convicted Of Marijuana Possession: More than a half dozen years after statewide legalization of marijuana use, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced that he was creating a process allowing over 3.600 people to apply for a pardon for illegal cannabis use; the process would be designed so that applicants could receive the pardon without either hiring a lawyer or going to court. In making the announcement, Inslee stated “the state should not be punishing people for something that is no longer illegal.”
- New York State Plans To Use Cannabis Tax To Fund NYC Subways: In a rare show of unity, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a joint plan that would transform the state’s transportation system and use funds drawn from the proposed tax on cannabis; the two political leaders said that funding priority would go to “the subway system, including new subway cars, track and car repair, accessibility among other investments in expanding transit availability to outer boroughs (of New York) with limited mass transit options.”
- Federal Reserve Chair Agrees On Need For “Clarity” Regarding Cannabis Financing: Confirming what most people already knew, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told a hearing of the US Senate that conflicting federal and state laws regarding the sale of marijuana and other cannabis products puts banking regulators “in a very difficult place.” Powell said it would “be great to have clarity” on the issue of legal cannabis, as the current myriad of federal and state laws “puts financial institutions—and supervisors—in a difficult place.” Adding to the confusion was last year’s federal Farm Bill that removed hemp from the federal government’s list of controlled substances. However, current federal cannabis regulations deter banks from partnering with legal dispensaries.
- Wisconsin Governor Proposes Decriminalizing Marijuana, Legalizing Medical Usage: Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced in February that his state budget will propose decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, as well as legalizing medical marijuana. Under the proposed change, a Wisconsin doctor—or practitioner under the direction of a physician—could recommend the use of medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms related to medical conditions ranging from cancer and chronic pain to post-traumatic stress disorder; the law would decriminalize possession, manufacturing or distribution of marijuana in amounts of 25 grams or less. Some state Republican leaders have voiced opposition to the bill, although state assembly Republican leaders have indicated they may be open to legalizing cannabis for medical purposes only.
- One Of The Largest Mall Owners In The US Prepares To Open More Than 100 ‘Cannabis Lifestyle Shops’: Simon Property Growth, one of the country’s largest owners of malls nationwide, is preparing to open over 100 shops with products infused with CBD (short for cannabidiol). In partnership with Ohio-based marijuana company Green Growth Brands, Simon plans to open 108 stores selling CBD products; these stores will be located in malls nationwide, from New York City to Houston. The first location is slated to open in March at Castleton Square Mall, in Indianapolis. In an era when some mall owners have been struggling to fill retail space, Simon and similar mall proprietors are hoping the burgeoning legal cannabis industry can help revive their locations nationwide.
- New Jersey Legislators Reveal Plan To Allow Adult-Use Of Marijuana: In March, New Jersey’s legislators announced they would support Governor Phil Murphy’s plan to allow adult use of marijuana; the legislative proposal also included proposed taxes and what was described as an “expedited expungement process” for state residents with previous, low-level marijuana convictions. The new legislation would also permit municipalities that house cannabis manufacturers to collect the revenue from a 2 percent tax on the product within their jurisdiction. Should the bill become law, a “Cannabis Regulatory Commission”, whose five members would be appointed by the governor, would govern New Jersey’s marijuana market.
- Minnesota’s Senate Rejects Proposed Legalization of Recreational Marijuana: Republican members of Minnesota’s state senate voted down a measure that would have legalized statewide recreational use of marijuana. Citing testimony from representatives from the law enforcement and health sectors, GOP senators voted down the measure. In addition, the same senators also ended a last-ditch attempt by the bill’s supporters to create a task force to further study the issue. The defeat effectively ended, for now, the debate whether Minnesota would join the growing number of states that moved to legalize cannabis for both medical and recreational use.
- Alaska Becomes First State To Permit ‘On-Site’ Marijuana Consumption: Alaska will become the first state with legalized recreational cannabis that will permit consumers to use their product at the point of purchase. Although some dispensaries in both San Francisco and Denver allow cannabis users to consume their purchase on-site, no other state currently permits consumers to do so on a statewide basis. With this new law, licensed retail businesses in Alaska can begin applying in April for a state-issued ‘special onsite use endorsement’. Under the new law, cannabis consumption would have to be separate from the retail space it was purchased in, separate by either a wall, secure door or outdoor patio. In addition, businesses will have to provide consumers with proper security and adequate ventilation. The law will, however, allow local governments to either restrict or prohibit on-site use of purchased cannabis products.
Barely three months into the calendar year, 2019 is, indeed, shaping up to be perhapsthe most consequential year to date in the continuing evolution of legalized cannabis throughout the US.
About The Calico Group
The Calico Group is a global supply chain management firm with a unique and specialized focus on the ancillary cannabis marketplace. Based out of Austin, Texas, with offices across North America and assets around the globe, we carry a unique advantage across our main product & service verticals to provide a direct and customized “full service” approach to uniquely fit our client’s ongoing needs. Ranging from innovative hardware and packaging solutions to comprehensive multi-state / multi-year supply planning, The Calico Group is positioned to be the go-to strategy for businesses ranging from budding startup’s to vertically integrated public entities.