2022: The year of mixed reviews. While some are content with the progress made in the legal cannabis market, others feel like new laws and regulations lack something to be desired. Although the legislature has become significantly more accepting of the recreational use of marijuana in leftist states, the same cannot be said for states that lean right.
So far, 2022 has seen a number of pertinent industry victories, but there’s still much to be said when it comes to republican lawmakers that seem to be dragging their feet in the sand.
Low Hanging Fruit
According to Karen O’Keefe, state policies director for the Washington DC-based Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the successes that have been made this year are what she is calling “low-hanging fruit.” According to O’Keefe, “the low-hanging fruit has been picked, and more challenging states remain. And even in states with Democratic trifectas, it took years of organizing and work to get legalization past the finish line.”
The easy part of the work has been done and capitalized on. For big, meaningful change to be seen on a sustainable basis, the anti-prohibitionist movement needs to start seeing republican lawmakers move toward a legal cannabis market, be it at the medical or recreational levels.
The primary issue is that Republican lawmakers are lagging behind the anti-prohibitionist movement. And this lagging has not gone unnoticed by the industry.
Consider Pennsylvania, where legislation on the legalization of recreational cannabis is still in the works. It’s a well-known fact that there is a growing demand for the state to legalize adult-use sales in order to catch up to the success of its neighbor New Jersey. However, the Pennsylvania Senate Republicans continue to be a significant barrier, and legalizing this year is highly unlikely.
While states continue to legalize marijuana in some form, O’Keefe stated that lawmakers in the majority of states continue to lag well behind when it comes to the legislature on legalization.
Nevertheless, it’s important to celebrate the victories that have been seen in 2022 up to this point. Although these accomplishments are for the majority blue, they are still worth noting.
According to MJBizDaily, some of those victories include:
“Rhode Island became the 19th state to legalize recreational marijuana. The market is expected to launch on December 1st, with existing medical cannabis operators getting the first crack at sales.”
“Mississippi became the 39th state to legalize medical marijuana, a year after the state’s highest court voided a voter-approved referendum. The state opened its licensing-application process earlier this month and is on track for sales to start by the end of the year or early 2023.”
“Maryland lawmakers referred the issue of recreational marijuana to voters, who are expected to approve a legalization initiative in November. Assuming the measure passes, lawmakers will need to agree on a licensing and regulatory structure. Sales are expected to start in 2024 or 2025.”
While many legalization initiatives in other states have fallen short, those in Delaware (recreational), North Carolina (medical), and South Carolina (medical) made more progress than in other states.
There is still a remote possibility that North Carolina lawmakers would enact a medicinal marijuana law. However, experts do not see it passing this year.
Of all the Democratic states, only Delaware and Hawaii have yet to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. For O’keefe, this is due to the fact that the Governors of both states are against legalization.
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