With the once-likely passage of the SAFE Banking Act stalling in Congress, and President Biden’s reluctance to move forward on his legalization campaign promises, most cannabis legislative actions prior to the 2022 elections will be on the state level. And four states have stories to tell.
Mississippi: a year has passed since voters approved a medical cannabis initiative only to have the state Supreme Court invalidate its passage on a technicality. And Governor Tate Reeves has shown no interest in revisiting the issue — threatening to veto any replacement legislation unless there are severe limits on the amount of cannabis a patient can receive at one time. He has called the compromise bill the state House and Senate are currently proposing a “recreational cannabis program.”
Would a Reeves veto hold up? A two-thirds vote in both chambers of the legislature would be needed to overturn it, and while the will of the voters is clear, the commitment of the state senators and representatives is not.
Virginia: voters last year approved adult-use recreational sales, but getting them implemented is another story. The legalization bill set 2024 as the deadline to begin sales unless sped up by the legislature, which is not likely with newly-elected Governor Glenn Youngkin sitting in Richmond. Youngkin continues to state he will not look to overturn legalization, but that “there is a lot of work to do” before commercialization begins.
What kind of work? Youngkin considers the forced unionization in the current bill the legislature is developing a “nonstarter,” He is also apparently seeking to balance having preferred opportunities for minority-, women- and military-owned businesses with avoidance of anything seen as promoting anti-competitive behavior. Short strokes: he’s in no hurry to launch.
Colorado: no stranger to recreational sales, the state is turning its attention toward the social justice movement. Governor Jared Polis opened the year by issuing over 1,300 pardons for low-level possession, allowing adults who were previously convicted for what is now legal to remove any stains from their permanent records. Certainly, governors in other states are watching closely, and many are expected to follow suit in early 2022.Montana: adult-use recreational sales have just begun as of January 1, and dispensaries that previously served only medical patients were flooded with new customers on New Year’s Day. The first weekend alone hit over $1.5 million in recreational sales. Kanna Knowledge will keep watch on how this marketplace develops.