Unlike lagging states, ballot states have either just passed cannabis legalization or have the ability to do so. These budding markets are a bit like pre-teens: They’re inexperienced and have little idea what they’re doing as they awkwardly navigate their space (in this case, the cannabis industry).
Many ballot states want to portray patience as they take time to determine the best way to address issues like social equity and regulatory structures. However, the true motivation behind such delays is often political in nature, despite the benefits of a legal marijuana market.
Here’s everything you need to know about states in which cannabis markets are coming to fruition.
Cannabis Legalization Is on the Ballot
For voters across the country, marijuana legalization is on the ballot. Though being “on the ballot” doesn’t mean the same thing in each state. In particular, this refers to either a ballot initiative or a referendum. Although both ballot initiatives and referendums seek the opinion of the entire electorate, they aren’t the same.
A ballot initiative is a process by which citizens can propose a statute or constitutional amendment to be voted on. Conversely, a referendum occurs when the legislature passes a law and then chooses to refer it to the voters to decide whether or not to uphold said piece of legislation.
In New Mexico, lawmakers continue to debate specific points of the state’s cannabis legalization bill before it heads to a final vote. Unfortunately, New Mexico cannot permit recreational use through a ballot initiative, so it must instead be done through the legislature.
States With Recently Passed Legislation
Even in the face of a pandemic, some states have found ways to legalize cannabis. Many of these states have even recognized how a healthy market — and the associated taxes and fees — can help rehabilitate an economy crippled by COVID-19.
As a historically conservative Southern state, Georgia is a prime example. With 69% of Georgians in support of cannabis legalization, the state has begun reviewing license candidates for its medical marijuana program. Meanwhile, cities like Atlanta and Savannah have opted to decriminalize possession of certain amounts of cannabis.
The passage and implementation of a medical cannabis program in Georgia came as the result of heavy influence from industry leaders. Lobbyists and cannabis operators worked diligently to ensure the success of this bill, and it worked. Such pressure may be effective in other states as well.
Unfortunately, other states have put their rollouts on pause due to the pandemic. Although these programs have been guaranteed, it’ll take some time to get them up and running.
The Bright Future of Cannabis Legalization
The future of cannabis in the United States looks bright — but only if the push for legalization continues. In states looking to pass cannabis-friendly legislation, would-be operators shouldn’t sit idly by.
Instead, connect with lobbyists and advocacy groups — such as NORML — to support proposed legislation. Doing so will give cannabis legalization a fighting chance when it comes to a vote.
If you’re in a state that’s legalized but hasn’t rolled out a program, make the most out of this time. Work with experts who can predict what your needs will be and help you prepare to meet them. Additionally, familiarize yourself with the statute and any known regulations. You’ll then have ample time to become and stay compliant.
Cannabis legalization has a promising future in ballot states. Whether laws have recently been passed or are being debated on floors of state senates, many states will soon see new and emerging markets.
Are you eagerly awaiting the rollout of your state’s cannabis program? Contact our team of experts so we can help you through the pre-application process and give your business the best chance of winning a license!
Not in a ballot state? Check out the other articles in our Hot States series to see where your state falls.