To all of our faithful subscribers on this Thanksgiving Day, we, the cannabis business lawyers here at Canna Law Blog sincerely thank you for your readership, your loyalty, and most especially your comments. Because of you, we have more than 160,000 likes on our Canna Law Blog facebook page, and you motivate us to continue trying our utmost to produce useful and meaningful legal content on all things marijuana. All of us in all of our offices (Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Barcelona) thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
On this Thanksgiving Day, the marijuana industry has much to be thankful for as well, including these five things:
- The legalization and “medicalization” of marijuana in eight out of nine states by ballot initiative. Americans spoke loudly on the need to end the federal government’s war on marijuana on a state by state basis. In addition to Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska, marijuana is now legal for adults 21 and up in California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts. In addition, Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota now have legal medical marijuana and Montana also passed more comprehensive medical marijuana reform.
- Marijuana legalization in California. With as big as it is and as influential as it is on federal policy, the legalization of marijuana in California via Proposition 64 is a huge step forward for the growth and legitimization of the marijuana industry. And with legalization in California, recreational marijuana is now legal all along the West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska).
- The federal Appropriations Bills are way stronger than most initially thought. In United States v. McIntosh, the widely influential Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of MMJ providers who disputed the Department of Justice’s enforcement of the federal Controlled Substances Act against them in their respective states (all of which have legalized MMJ) in the face of Congressional spending bills (i.e., the “Rohrabacher-Farr amendment“) meant to de-fund such actions. In doing so, the court reaffirmed Congress’s intent to halt federal enforcement measures against medical marijuana providers in states that have legalized and regulated MMJ. Since 2014, Congress has continued to prohibit the DOJ from using appropriated funds to pursue federal enforcement actions against state-compliant medical marijuana providers and businesses. This ruling represents the highest judicial approval of that legislation as an effective means of curbing federal crackdowns on state-legal medical marijuana programs.
- Democrats want a “reasonable pathway” to legalization. On July 9th the Democratic Party, in the form of a Platform amendment, announced that it wants a “reasonable pathway” for legalization of marijuana and proposed rescheduling marijuana from Schedule 1 under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Though this is no resounding endorsement of full-blown legalization, it is a positive step towards the actual end of the federal war on marijuana.
- Oregon and Alaska got their marijuana licensing regimes off the ground. If anyone follows the tumult of rule making in states after marijuana legalization or reform, they know it can take forever because of constantly changing proposed rules and legal challenges. This year though, both Oregon and Alaska were off to the races with their licensing programs. As federal policies on marijuana will no doubt continue to change and be unpredictable, the faster states can get their marijuana licensing programs off the ground and operating the better for everyone involved in marijuana in the United States. So, thanks Oregon and Alaska.
With marijuana wildcard President-elect Donald Trump and his draconian, drug war proponent pick for U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, there may be tough times ahead for the state-legal marijuana industry. But that shouldn’t stop any of us from giving thanks today for how immensely far the marijuana industry has come in the last year
Happy Thanksgiving to you all!