You Voted To Legalize Marijuana: Now What?

Your state voted to pass recreational or medical marijuana in November. Now what? You should be able to purchase and consume immediately, right? Nope! Just take a look at what a few states have been dealing with since the elections.

Nevada is one of eight states that allows the sale and consumption of recreational marijuana. According to the law, adults can buy up to one ounce of marijuana flower or up to one-eighth of an ounce of marijuana concentrates per visit to a legal dispensary. The problem? Even though recreational marijuana was supposed to be legal starting January 8th, 2017, dispensaries won’t be selling nonmedical marijuana until June at the earliest, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Worse yet, for Henderson City, where recreational marijuana has been legal for a while, the City Council has now passed a six-month moratorium on marijuana sales. Why? They’re banning marijuana in order to wait for regulations from the state. The goal is to make a “‘very smooth transition’ to recreational sales in Henderson without forcing the city to ‘rush into it,’” Scot Rutledge of the Nevada Cannabis Coalition told the Las Vegas Sun in a separate article.

And Nevada isn’t the only state experiencing delays when trying to move from law to reality. According to the Sun Sentinel, though Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana, state health officials are trying to impose rules that would put a stranglehold on the industry. The rules proposed by the Department of Health would limit the unspecified conditions mentioned in the Amendment to only those determined by the Florida Board of Medicine, and would also maintain the state’s current cap on marijuana vendors—seven licenses for 500,000 patients.

The reality is that there’s a lot for Florida lawmakers to figure out before the new medical marijuana laws can go into effect. “The notion that [the] medical marijuana [amendment] becomes effective is a little anticlimactic,” Ben Pollara, executive chairman of advocacy group Florida for Care, told the Miami Herald. “It’s effective as a point of law. But before anybody can see access to medical marijuana under this new law, there needs to be rulemaking and regulations passed by the Legislature.”

To put the Amendment into practice, there are many regulations that have yet to be written, though the Legislature and the Department of Health have hard deadlines for writing them. According to the Miami Herald, the legislature has to come up with a plan to issue and renew medical marijuana cards, define how treatment centers should operate, and determine the “adequate” amount of marijuana to prescribe by June. They then have three months to start issuing licenses and ID cards before citizens have the right to sue.

Even California is having issues moving to a recreational marijuana market. According to Proposition 64, California is required to start issuing licenses for the sale of marijuana for recreational use by January 1st, 2018—however, there could be a delay. The Los Angeles Times revealed that, “the state could decide to issue provisional licenses until it is ready to implement the detailed process for background checks and issuing more permanent licenses.” There was even talk at a recent hearing about delaying taxes and permits “given its complexity, given the lack of clear sense of direction from the federal government at this point.”

Marijuana users eager light up in their home states might need to take a deep breath and wait. There’s a lot of work to be done after each law is passed, and before sales can begin.

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