Thanks to stock market shake ups, rare bi-partisan support, and high-profile company interest, the cannabis industry is becoming more popular than ever before.
With a global market predicted to be worth over $146 billion by 2025, it’s no secret why cannabis is one of the trendiest topics in America. A majority of states with legal cannabis markets have significantly benefited from progressive law changes – states like California, and Colorado have raked in more than $150M a year from cannabis-tax revenues, with a considerable amount of that money being poured into state and city budgets that help fund things like public education.
In Michigan and North Dakota, pro-cannabis advocates are expressing similar sentiments to encourage their residents to “vote yes” on adult-use cannabis initiatives; this November voters in both states could pass legislation that would legalize recreational cannabis.
Michigan – a confused market waiting to explode
More than 269,000 people are registered medical marijuana patients in the state of Michigan, making the state one of the largest medical marijuana programs, only second to California.
But the total patient figure doesn’t quite reflect the real story in the Wolverine State, which is murky and cluttered with hard-to-understand policies that has left many officials puzzled and confused.
Simply put – in 2008 Michigan became the 13th state to legalize medicinal cannabis. Until recently, legislators struggled to create easy-to-understand rules and regulations that were respected by all state officials. Before Gov. Snyder signed a law that clarified and expanded medical marijuana in 2016, the state regularly shut down legal businesses operating within the cannabis market.
Proposal 1, also titled Michigan Marijuana Legalization Initiative, would allow persons 21 years of age or older to possess and use cannabis as long as they’re not in public or driving under the influence. MMLI also allows Michiganders to grow up to 12 cannabis plants within their own homes.
Of other significance is the currently proposed excise tax rate – which as it stands sits at 10%, making it the lowest tax rate on recreational cannabis in the nation.
In early June, legislators had an opportunity to consider a law that would have legalized recreational cannabis if it received enough votes in the House and Senate. However, the initiative never reached a vote and the future of cannabis in Michigan now rests in the public hands.
Officials are predicting the state’s adult-use market to be worth around $800 million by 2020 if the proposal passes.
North Dakota – stalled out medical program could help legalize adult-use
In early August, state officials announced that North Dakotans will be voting on Measure 3 in November’s midterms – a ballot measure that aims to legalize recreational marijuana.
Measure 3, also referenced as The North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative, was designed to help offset the negative effects of the War on Drugs by including official regulations that would expunge thousands of statewide cannabis convictions.
North Dakota legalized medicinal cannabis in 2016, but initial program rollouts have been stalled and doors of dispensaries have yet to open – frustrating patients hoping to find relief through cannabis.
That frustration could help spur even more voters to “vote yes” on the initiative – recently, a wave of pro and anti-cannabis advertisements have flooded the state as backers of both sides are expecting a tight race.
The initiative is currently being backed by national organizations like the Marijuana Policy Project, who is helping fund grassroot campaigns within the state.
Next in line: New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania
Michigan, and North Dakota are the only two states with adult-use cannabis measures in November’s upcoming midterms.
But other states, like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New-York, are heavily investigating the potential outcomes of a statewide adult-use cannabis market.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has created a group left in charge of drafting legislation that would permit recreational use in the Big Apple. His neighbors down south in New Jersey are also taking a closer look; Gov. Phil Murphy recently said New Jersey will get recreational cannabis “sooner than later” in a Facebook Live town hall meeting. Murphy’s comments came after fielding multiple questions regarding a new bill that would legalize recreational cannabis in the Garden State.
Pennsylvania is also on a potential path to legalize recreational cannabis. Rep. Jake Wheatly recently introduced House Bill 2600, which would make Pennsylvania the 9th state and counting to legalize recreational cannabis. The bill currently has 12 co-sponsors, including seven members of the state House.