Though the presidential election may have stolen the limelight, cannabis scored huge victories across the country on election day. As far as the presidential election, there is no way to know what President Drumpf will do regarding marijuana. He has said in the past that he will respect state rights on this issue. In addition, as a businessman, he could champion policies to make the marijuana business easier, like allowing banking and instructing the Department of Justice to stay out of the way.
However, he is likely to appoint Guiliani or Christie as the U.S. Attorney General and both are opponents of marijuana legalization. The DOJ could negatively impact state marijuana programs by directing U.S. Attorneys in individual states to play a bigger role than they did under the Obama administration. The bottom line is, we don’t really know yet the impact and we will have to wait and see.
Here’s a state-by-state breakdown:
California Proposition 64 – PASSED
The most populous state in our nation now has legal recreational cannabis. California is currently putting together state regulations for both commercial medical and recreational markets, which are expected to come online in 2018. Until 2018, for marijuana businesses, the original 1996 Prop. 215 and it’s subsequent case law/interpretations continue to apply. State and local licensing will be necessary for all medical and recreational marijuana businesses. Local jurisdictions will also have to create their own regulations prior to the first dispensaries opening for business. Many local jurisdictions also passed ordinances on this ballot creating formal licensing processes for marijuana businesses.
Massachusetts Question 4 – PASSED
Massachusetts is bringing legal recreational cannabis to the East coast! With the passage of Question 2, Massachusetts will lift all legal penalties for adult possession and use of up to one ounce and home cultivation of up to 6 plants. In addition, the state will enact regulations for licensed adult-use marijuana businesses, including dispensaries and grows. This new law will allow for profit marijuana businesses (the current medical model is non-profit only). In addition, there are no residency restrictions on ownership in Massachusetts. Existing operators will have preferences in the new law and licensing will not open up for non-current licensees until 2019.
Maine Question 1 – PASSED
Maine will now allow adults to possess and use up to 2.5 ounces. Adults will also be permitted to grow 6 mature plants and 12 immature plants, and to possess unlimited seedlings in their homes. In addition, the state will implement a regulatory system for adult-use cannabis businesses. Local governments can prohibit marijuana businesses in their communities. The Maine state agency in charge of issuing licenses has 9 months to come up with rules to regulate the industry. In addition, Maine has explicitly authorized the creation of “social clubs” to allow on site consumption.
Nevada Question 2 – PASSED
What happens in Vegas . . . can now include legal recreational marijuana! Nevada will create a regulatory structure for adult-use cannabis businesses, and will remove all criminal penalties for adult possession and use of up to one ounce. Under the medical marijuana laws, all of the licenses have been given out and no new licenses are being issued. In addition, under the new recreational laws, only existing marijuana businesses will be able to apply for the recreational licenses for the first 18 months. Local jurisdictions can zone, but not prohibit, the location of marijuana businesses.
Colorado – Denver Proposition 300 – PASSED
The vote is close and an official victory has not yet been declared, but with a 5,000 vote lead we expect passage of the first public consumption program in the country! Assuming the results hold, the Denver City Council will have 60 days to create regulations to allow businesses in Denver to apply for permits to permit on-site consumption by adults over 21.
Colorado – Pueblo Repeal Initiatives – FAILED
Voters in Pueblo, CO roundly rejected one of the first large-scale attempts to repeal an existing, flourishing recreational market.
Arizona Proposition 205 – FAILED
This was the only major cannabis measure to fail in this election, and even it carried almost 48% of the vote. Hopefully next time…
Florida Amendment 2 – PASSED
With a whopping 71% approval, Florida ushered in a comprehensive medical marijuana program that will include commercial grows and dispensaries. The Florida agency in charge of issuing licenses has 6 months to come up with rules regulating the industry. There are no residency restrictions on ownership of Florida licenses at this time. Whether local governments can ban marijuana businesses is not clear, as there are arguments on both sides at this time.
Arkansas Issue 6 – PASSED
Arkansas joins the medical marijuana states and will allow up to 8 medical grows and 40 medical dispensaries statewide.
North Dakota Measure 5 – PASSED
North Dakota also now joins the medical states, and will create a regulatory scheme for medical dispensaries.
Montana I-182 – PASSED
Montana repealed its current three-patient limit, paving the way for commercial medical grows and dispensaries.
Altogether, the 2016 election was incredible for cannabis. The recreational marketplace more than doubled, and the majority of states now permit some form of medical cannabis. This election may finally force the federal government to recognize our burgeoning industry, but only time will tell.