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As New Jersey moves closer to an operational adult-use market for marijuana, advocates for medicinal weed wonder if the transition will start to squeeze out the patients who need cannabis for serious medical conditions.
But those on the supply side say that shouldn't be a concern — certain suppliers will have to certify that they have enough product to feed both markets, and there could be more rules in the future dictating a certain amount of product that must be set aside for those who need it most.
Amber Littlejohn, executive director of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, said “microbusinesses can be a great thing.”
“However, when there are arbitrary limits on growth and structure, they are not,” she told MJBizDaily.
Take New Jersey, for example. Microbusinesses there will be capped at 10 employees and a maximum cultivation area of 2,500 square feet.
The big question is: Which states are next?
Had this question been posed a month ago, I'd have put the Sunshine State of Florida at or near the top of the list. It's no secret that legalization support groups have been focusing on Florida for the 2022 ballot. Unfortunately, the Florida Supreme Court struck down a proposed ballot initiative in a 5-2 vote on April 22 due to the phrasing that would be used on the ballot. This might kick the can(nabis) further down the road for one of the biggest moneymaker states for the pot industry.
When Arizonans voted to legalize recreational cannabis in November, it seemed plausible that sales would begin sometime in the spring.
But on Jan. 22, less than three months after the vote, the Arizona Department of Health Services started quickly approving applications, allowing dispensaries to sell cannabis to adults 21 and older immediately.
Adult use is supported by the state’s two most powerful lawmakers and, three months ago, 67 percent of the state’s voters backed a constitutional amendment saying New Jerseyans aged 21 and over should be allowed to sell and use cannabis.
Even so, New Jersey’s three-year odyssey toward a regulated cannabis market nearly ran aground over disagreements between Murphy, top Democrats and leaders of the Black and Latino legislative caucuses over how to penalize kids who have been caught with a loose joint.
Several MSOs, including Curaleaf, Green Thumb Industries and Trulieve, have spent tens of millions of dollars in the past two years to enter or expand in Connecticut’s MMJ market and position themselves for the possible legalization of recreational cannabis.
In addition, any adult-use market is expected to generate license and ancillary opportunities for a number of Connecticut-based enterprises, including social equity applicants and small businesses.
Today, more than two-in-three Americans support marijuana legalization, including 49 percent of respondents who self-identify as “conservative,” according to Gallup’s 2020 polling. Even in a historically conservative state like Texas, nearly two-in-three respondents, 64 percent, supported legalizing and taxing marijuana in the 2021 Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation Poll.
In the span of eight short years, the number of states in the U.S. allowing adult-use marijuana has gone from zero to fifteen. Most of these efforts have happened via state-wide ballot initiatives.
Far more popular than any politician, cannabis legalization is still being sold to American voters on a wobbly raft of lofty and discursive promises, uneasily lashed together with sinews of money.
Several years into the experiment, cannabis is absolutely a multi-billion-dollar industry, but legal weed hasn’t fixed systemic racism, cured the ills of the drug war, or democratized business opportunities. Legalization hasn’t even guaranteed Americans reliable access to legal cannabis, in the states that have legalized.
Recreational marijuana legalization victories at the ballot box in Arizona and New Jersey this month have set the table for adult-use legalization in a handful of nearby states in 2021 – with more than $6 billion in business opportunities possibly up for grabs within a few years.
“New York, Connecticut, Maryland, New Mexico are ripe for 2021” to legalize recreational use through their legislatures, said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Washington DC-based Marijuana Policy Project.