“Industry experts are keeping a close eye on the East Coast states of Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island,” Marijuana Business Daily reported this week.
Those four newly legal states alone are expected to generate $6 billion once sales begin, the publication said. And that’s obviously of significant interest to legislators in nonlegal states.
But the line from interest to passage is not a direct one owing to political dynamics, MJBizDaily noted. Connecticut seems less likely to legalize than it did a few months ago, the publication pointed out. And though Pennsylvania and Minnesota remain in play for adult-use markets, “Passage appears unlikely.”
‘Red’ States Aren’t Always That Red
In cannabis terms, red states have liberalized – a lot. In the November election, Arizona, Montana and South Dakota all approved adult-use legalization; and Mississippi and South Dakota approved medical marijuana. Considering that more than two-thirds of Americans support adult-use legalization according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, and given all the states that have already legalized, the continuing spread of this trend seems almost inevitable.
This is especially true for medical marijuana. Alabama, for example, looks like a likely state, MJBizDaily said, citing industry experts. And while “Nebraska, Kansas and South Carolina seem “unlikely,” North Carolina is a “maybe,” since the head of its state senate rules committee has submitted a bill. Texas, meanwhile, is a “state to watch,” in that its limited medical marijuana rules may expand: A bill is under consideration to increase the Lone Star State’s THC limit from 0.5 percent to 5 percent by weight; Conditions like chronic pain and PTSD may also be added to the qualifying list.
Certainly legalization is tempting in states that haven’t made that move, considering those tantalizing revenues the cannabis industry is chalking up, as well as the pressures on border states. “Marijuana stores near state borders have parking lots full of license plates from their prohibitionist neighbors,” Karen O’Keefe, state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project, pointed out to MJBizDaily.
Despite all the momentum, however, legalization remains “a heavy lift” in state legislatures, O’Keefe said. Efforts in Maryland, for instance, have stalled, as has legislation in Kentucky.
Still, some states can be a surprise. Alabama’s senate has passed a medical marijuana bill each of the past three years, MJBizDaily observed. Covid-19 made a house vote impossible in that state, but “this year two committees have advanced an amended measure to the full house,” O’Keefe said.
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