At Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting, we like to keep you up to date on cannabis legalization efforts around the United States. In the midst of a pandemic, cannabis legislation has changed dramatically. For some states this change is progress, but for others, it’s a kneecapping loss of momentum.
Earlier this year, several states — like New York, Vermont, and Idaho — seemed to be making significant progress with legalization. Unfortunately, many efforts have since stalled out. As we move into the latter part of 2020, though, states like Nebraska, Arizona, and even Texas have become proponents of cannabis-friendly legislation.
Here’s everything you need to know about emerging states with 420-friendly legislation on the horizon.
Cannabis Legalization & Growth Slows in Some States
Recently, Vermont, New York, and Idaho looked to be the next big states to introduce some form of cannabis legislation. Unfortunately, progress toward cannabis legalization in many of these states has come to a grinding halt as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although recreational adult-use can help take the edge off during this extraordinarily stressful situation, local legislatures have chosen to focus their efforts elsewhere.
In Idaho, legalizing medical marijuana would have been a huge victory for those in favor of complete cannabis legalization in such a conservative state. Sadly, the initiative didn’t get enough votes to be included on the ballot in November. Similarly, New York was looking to legalize cannabis through their state legislature but simply lost focus and momentum when the pandemic hit the state.
Additionally, Vermont has also hit the pause button on their cannabis legalization efforts. Even though they’ve made great progress, efforts there have been frozen since about February, and they probably won’t thaw until the pandemic is under control.
New Potential Cannabis-Friendly States Emerge
While the pandemic has hindered some states’ ability to introduce cannabis legislation, it’s also spurred others into action. Texas, Nevada, Nebraska, and Arizona have all seen an increase in 420-friendly legislative activity. Whether it be first-time legalization or expanding upon legislation that’s already been passed, these emerging states are making great strides.
Historically anti-cannabis, citizens of the Lone Star State are becoming increasingly more vocal in favor of cannabis legalization. Much of the recent support has come in light of the state’s tax revenue. Without state income tax, taxes and fees associated with legal cannabis would boost the state’s revenue stream. In fact, organizations like Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy advocate for more robust decriminalization and legalization efforts to improve just that.
Generally, Texas tends to be a conservative state — arguably more so than Idaho. For this reason, Texans taking a pro-cannabis position is a huge step for the industry.
Already a medical and recreational use state, Nevada has stringent regulations surrounding the purchase of cannabis. However, for a state so heavily reliant on income from tourism, COVID-19 has crippled Nevada. As a result, the state seeks to supplement its income through taxes and fees related to cannabis sales.
In order to increase sales, the legislature is considering relaxing many of the restrictions on how cannabis is sold. Dispensaries, for example, may soon be allowed to offer drive-through service and even curbside pickup!
A state without any history of cannabis legalization, Nebraska has introduced a ballot initiative to change that. If it passes in November, the Nebraska Medical Marijuana Initiative would add an amendment to the state’s constitution that legalizes medical marijuana.
Not only would this amendment allow for cannabis to be used medicinally, but a constitutional amendment would be incredibly difficult for the legislature to repeal. If successful, this legislation would pave the way to full legalization in Nebraska.
Already a medical use state, Arizona has been trying to legalize cannabis for recreational use since 2016 when it failed. The new iteration of this bill has made some changes and is now called the Smart and Safe Arizona Act.
This new legislation would regulate cannabis in a manner similar to how alcohol is regulated. For instance, buyers must be at least 21 years old to purchase cannabis products. There would also be a limit on how much THC certain products could contain.
Cannabis Legalization Going into an Election
As we get closer to Election Day, 2020 is turning out to be an important year for cannabis. In the midst of one of the most intense and divisive elections of our lifetimes, cannabis legalization will be on the ballot.
We must support our brothers and sisters around the country in their decriminalization and legalization efforts. A victory for one state is a victory for all of us because it brings us one step closer to federal legalization.
Schedule a consultation to learn how your business can support emerging states this November!