We’ve come a long way since hand transactions in apartment hallways. The cannabis industry is now a legal business with brick-and-mortar stores serving their communities. However, the journey to full legalization is still underway. Removing cannabis as a Schedule I drug is long overdue, especially since that classification of controlled substances is defined as “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” That was proven false a long time ago. Some dispensaries even sell cannabis in medicinal vials, similar to prescription pharmaceuticals.
The results of the 2020 elections offered a better glimpse towards a greener future ahead — and not just environmentally. Kim Rivers, CEO of Florida-based Trulieve, and Ben Kovle, CEO of Green Thumb Industries located in Illinois, appeared at MJBizCon’s Passholder Days Forum shortly after the election where they explained that support for legalization is slowly becoming non-partisan. Republican and Democratic state politicians agree with the benefits of legalizing cannabis but said the green wave is in need of input from the people.
There are a few factors that indicate that things are moving in a positive direction overall. Marijuana legalization is gaining momentum statewide, even in Southern states that have been historically opposed to widespread access. Federal legalization might not happen imminently but “we’re going to continue to see this green wave occur on a state level,” Rivers explained at the Forum. She wasn’t wrong. By June 2021, 19 states had legalized cannabis for recreational use, and 37 for medicinal purposes.
On Tuesday, Connecticut became the latest state to join Rivers’ described “green wave.” Gov. Ned Lamont officially signed off on the bill which opens the doors for a legal market and hopes to address racial inequity within Black and Brown communities that have been disproportionately targeted by the war on drugs. The new bill allows for the consumption and public possession of 1.5 oz (42.5 grams) of cannabis. Consumers will also be able to hold five oz. in their home, or in the trunk or glove compartment of their vehicles. The bill will go into effect on July 1st but retailers likely won’t be opening up shop until August 2022.