What’s the score on states voting medical and recreational marijuana: in or out?
Medical marijuana for four more states and a “yes” to recreational marijuana for California
Fortune reports on the election results as four more states Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota voted on legalizing medical cannabis raising the number of states with such laws to 27.
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Medical Marijuana in North Dakota
Statutory Measure 5 was favored by 64 percent of voters in North Dakota, which allows the use of marijuana for treatment of specified “debilitating medical conditions” and those added by the North Dakota Department of Health. It also authorizes production and distribution of medical cannabis by nonprofit “compassion centers” registered by the state. The measure allows patients who live more than 40 miles from the nearest licensed supplier to grow up to eight marijuana plants in a locked and enclosed facility.
Anita Morgan of North Dakota Compassionate Care, the committee that promoted the initiative said: “Measure 5 is going to improve the quality of life for many North Dakotans.”
Montana expanded access to medical marijuana while Arizona rejected Marijuana Legalization.
The Big News
The big news: California just legalized marijuana — and that’s a game changer. This could altogether tip the scale favorably for cannabis. The size and population of California puts the marijuana industry in a different league. This could be the long-awaited reason for a policy around the drug to be put in place.
California will not only have to figure out a public policy regarding stoned drivers, but also will have to deal with how marijuana fits into the state’s economy. As the state with the largest economy, this will be an important measure.
California’s marijuana industry could become bigger than its famous wine industry. The market for medicinal and recreational marijuana is projected to reach $22 billion in the next four years. It is currently valued at $7 billion.
Federal government should find consistency
This may put pressure on the federal government to lift its ban on the drug as the variety of laws and regulations is becoming very complicated. The federal government accepts taxes from marijuana businesses, while the very same businesses are not allowed to have bank accounts or get credit.
These problems will really escalate now, and will have to be dealt with in a way that makes sense. The national conversation will focus on the health benefits of cannabis, and how to regulate suppliers and businesses in terms of public health. Then again, it has never been an issue in Amsterdam.
To get going may take time
To get the respective “yes” vote measures implemented could take time, as regulators will most likely engage in long and careful debates to consider specific structures for the legal market.
An example was Alaska, which took two years to sell its first legal recreational cannabis. In Colorado the regulatory process took more than a year before the first legal sale took place in 2014.