Marijuana laws are constantly changing as cannabis reform continues to take shape in the U.S. With 2018 officially upon us, it’s a great time for cannabis farmers to review the current state of cannabis legalization and marijuana growing laws. Americover is here with a full rundown of what you need to know heading into the new year.
California Goes All In
New Year’s Day always brings a wave of state law changes across the U.S., but 2018 had a major headliner with California’s move to officially legalize recreational marijuana. According to CNN, hundreds of people lined up in the early hours of New Year’s Day to buy recreational pot. One store owner said he expected a 30 percent increase in sales overnight but saw closer to a whopping 50 to 60 percent increase. Those short-term gains are in line with long-term projections. The University of California Agricultural Issues Center at UC-Davis estimate that legal marijuana could grow to a $5 billion industry in California alone by 2019.
As both the nation’s most populous state and a longtime poster child for cannabis culture, California represents a key piece in marijuana’s path to mainstream acceptance. However, despite the win for California marijuana growers and sellers, the federal government still considers cannabis illegal, and the laws can be difficult to navigate from one city or county to the next. For example, despite recreational pot being legal in California, it is still illegal to smoke marijuana in public.
Local governments are complicating and delaying California’s legalization with what Deadline calls a “crazy quilt of regulations.” Los Angeles delayed many recreational shop openings when the city refused to accept applications before January 3, even though legalization went into effect January 1. San Francisco also held up applications with a bureaucratic lag, while Fresno, Bakersfield, and Riverside banned the sale of recreational pot within city limits. Nevertheless, between legalization of recreational marijuana and lower cannabis farm startup costs compared to other states, opportunities abound for those looking to grow and sell cannabis in California.
Federal Order Sows Uncertainty
However, the new year brought some potentially troubling news for the cannabis industry. Just four days after the opening of California’s market, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he would reverse the Cole Memo, an Obama administration order that gave federal prosecutors a list of priorities for dealing with states that had legalized marijuana. The memo put an emphasis on keeping the drug out of the hands of minors and the black market. With the memo rescinded, it will instead be up to U.S. attorneys in each state to decide how to enforce federal law, which still prohibits marijuana use, sale, and cultivation.
Even though this move opens the door for broader federal enforcement, U.S. attorney offices in some states – including Colorado – have already issued statements saying they have no plans to change prosecution strategy. Also, the move sent such political shockwaves through Washington, D.C., that it may have given a boost to the federal legalization movement.
Meanwhile, more states are moving ahead with legalization.
Who’s Going Recreational?
California is the sixth state to allow recreational marijuana sales, following the footsteps of Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Nevada. Newsweek reports that at least 12 states could legalize this year, “making 2018 a potentially pivotal year in the burgeoning bud movement.” Among those states are:
● New Jersey
● Rhode Island
It’s important to note that none of the states above have legalized recreational cannabis yet. Maine has approved it but has not yet approved commercial pot sales, while Massachusetts is confirmed to allow recreational pot sales starting July 1. Across the country, 2018 looks to be a banner year for recreational marijuana legalization.
Who’s Going Medicinal?
Medical marijuana is beginning to fill in the entire U.S. map. Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C. currently allow medical marijuana, and several more appear ready to take the leap in 2018, including:
● South Dakota
Again, none of these states have passed favorable medical cannabis laws yet. We will have to see what 2018 yields on this front as well, although most will be more focused on state marijuana laws involving recreational pot.
Marijuana Laws Abroad
America’s methodical destigmatizing of marijuana is paving the way for other nations to reconsider how they view cannabis. Canada’s Bill C-45 legalizes marijuana nationally this summer, but province and territory laws will likely create confusion similar to that in the U.S. Meanwhile, The Week reports that legalization in California could spur a wave of cannabis-friendly lawmaking across Europe. Time will tell overseas, as the U.S. is currently the most active in the decriminalization of cannabis.
Greenhouse Supplies for Marijuana Growing
Americover keeps a thumb on the pulse of marijuana law to educate cannabis farmers and those aspiring to enter the market on how best to grow – literally and figuratively. Shop our greenhouse supplies online, and stay tuned to our blog for ongoing updates and tips. You can also contact us directly at 833-261-6501 or email@example.com to speak directly with one of our hydroponics material experts.