Marijuana legalization advocates achieved big gains during this year’s midterm elections. On November 6, three more states legalized marijuana. Michigan voters approved a ballot initiative that legalizes marijuana for adults who are age 21 or older, and allows for the sale of flower, concentrates and cannabis-infused edibles.
Michigan will allow adults to cultivate up to 12 plants for personal use, and to possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana products stored in their home and to 2.5 ounces in public. Public consumption of marijuana, however, is prohibited. Michigan is now the tenth state to allow recreational marijuana, and the second largest behind California in terms of population.
Voters in Missouri approved the legalization of medical marijuana. Missouri’s ballot measure imposes a four percent sales tax on medical marijuana, with tax revenues earmarked for healthcare services for veterans. The new law requires the state to begin accepting applications for qualifying patients by June 4, 2019 and to begin accepting applications for dispensaries by August 3, 2019.
Utah similarly passed a ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana. This new law allows persons with a wide range of illnesses to acquire and use medical cannabis and, in certain limited circumstances, to grow up to 6 cannabis plants for personal medical use. The initiative also authorizes the establishment of licensed facilities that grow, process, test, or sell medical cannabis.
The day after the midterms also was a big marijuana news day. United States Attorney General Jeff Session resigned on November 7, 2018. While marijuana stocks soared as a result of this news, Session’s resignation may not lead to any legalization gains on the federal level. Session’s possible replacements include former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Pam Bondi, the current Attorney General for the State of Florida. Neither Christie nor Bondi is a fan of marijuana and both strongly oppose legalization.
Hopefully, however, the strong trend among states towards legalization will continue to discourage any federal enforcement action against licensed marijuana businesses. Additionally, Democratic control of the House of Representatives may improve the likelihood of passage of pro cannabis legislation, such as the States Act. The States Act would:
- Exempt businesses operating in compliance with state marijuana laws from federal drug laws;
- Allow legal marijuana businesses to take ordinary tax deductions;
- Allow legal marijuana businesses to use federally insured banks; and
- Remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances.
Stay tuned here for more news on the everchanging marijuana legalization landscape.
For more information on the regulation of marijuana businesses in Washington State, please contact Heather Wolf.