The Legal Hurdles Faced By The Marijuana Industry
The legalization of Marijuana is an incredibly contentious political issue that shows no signs of going away anytime soon. In 1996, California became the first state to legalize weed for medicinal purposes and a lot of other states soon followed suit. The medicinal law was essentially a loophole and while a lot of people did genuinely use it for medicinal purposes, it was easy to get around the system and a lot of people were using it recreationally.
The medicinal law was introduced as a sort of stepping stone because the more conservative members of the population were strictly against recreational use of Marijuana but that attitude has started to change in recent years.
In 2012, Colorado and Washington made history by becoming the first 2 states to allow people to buy and use Marijuana for strictly recreational purposes without having to provide evidence of a medical condition. Since then, more states have legalized medicinal Marijuana use and others have moved toward legalising recreational use, albeit with strict rules about the strength that is sold.
At the time, a lot of people thought that this marked a new phase in our thinking about psychoactive drugs and that attitudes toward them were set to relax, but that isn’t the case. The legalisation of recreational use has caused a big political divide.
On the one side, you’ve got the supporters of legalisation who argue that it’s a personal liberty issue and that there is a certain hypocrisy in selling alcohol but still criminalising Marijuana users. They also argue that the medical benefits of Marijuana (reducing stress, relieving pain etc.) are not being taken advantage off while the drug is still illegal in some states.
The opponents of Marijuana point to the fact that there is no conclusive evidence that those health benefits exist and warn that widespread Marijuana use is dangerous. This divide has put the Marijuana industry in a very difficult legal position.
In a recent development, new laws have been drafted regarding marijuana edibles in Colorado, particularly their shape. Pointing to the example of chocolate cigarettes, legislators have raised concerns that edibles in the shape of gummy bears etc. encourage children to take drugs. This is just one issue in a long list of concerns about how we deal with the marketing of Marijuana products.
Beyond that, there is a big problem with the difference in the law at a state and federal level. While many states have legalised it, it is still considered an illegal substance in federal law and the federal government has the right to implement that law, leading to some lengthy legal battles with suppliers. An attempt to shut down the largest dispensary in the country failed but the federal government are still making things difficult.
A lot of Marijuana dispensaries are not afforded the same benefits as most other businesses, meaning that they often end up paying way more tax, sometimes as much as 70 percent.
It’s difficult to know how laws will change under a new presidency but it is clear that the disparity between state and federal law is causing a lot of problems for the newly emerging Marijuana industry.