By Andrew Ward
Four of the five states that passed cannabis-centered electoral initiatives on election day 2020 have since encountered hurdles.
The path from electoral to implementation has only been smooth since one of the five states to take action recently – Arizona. Adult sales began on January 22nd and many medical pharmacies expanded to adult use to cater to the newly opened market.
The copper state sets new standards by opening its market just a few months after an initiative has been passed. However, legislators from the other four states are blocking the process.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem issued an executive order in January stating that she ordered a lawsuit to set aside the portion of the results for adult use.
Adult use, which was passed with a margin of 54.2% to 45.8%, was also included as a citizen in a law approving a medical market that the governor does not speak out against.
Law enforcement officers are joining the governor on the lawsuit and legal proceedings are pending.
The Montana legislature is not against the results of its election. However, they rejected requests from the Treasury Department to fund the program.
Despite the contradiction, laws on growing and owning homes went into effect on New Year’s Day. In the past few weeks, changes have been submitted to regulate taxes, their attribution and product promotion.
There didn’t seem to be much concern from sources in the state indicating that implementation is still ongoing.
Chris Lindsey, a Montana citizen and government relations director for the Marijuana Policy Project, says the refusal of funding was disappointing. The legislative period has not yet ended.
“We expect the governor and lawmaker to ultimately make the right decision and uphold the will of the people,” says Lindsey.
Photo by strelov / Getty Images
Mississippi’s bill is being challenged by Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins. The mayor argues that the initiative process was out of date because the rules weren’t updated after Mississippi shrank from five to four congressional districts.
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Hawkins, who filed her lawsuit days before the election, has since joined the American Medical Association and Mississippi State Medical Association to challenge the verdict. The groups cite risks to doctors and public health as their concerns.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is refusing to sign legalization or decriminalization bills in their current states. His objection largely concerned the removal of language in relation to the possession of minors.
He must now use a conditional veto against changes to the bill or hope that the legislature will force itself to change the bill according to his wishes.
Murphy has until February 8th to pass the bill on the New Jersey legislative calendar.
Despite his threat of veto, Murphy said he was optimistic that a bill would pass by the deadline.
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Michael McQueeny, Foley Hoag’s cannabis practice attorney, says lawmakers and government are playing “constitutional chicken” and waiting for whichever flashes first.
Jessica Gonzalez, a New Jersey-based cannabis and IP attorney with Bressler, Amery & Ross, says the bill does not fully cover all parties.
“While I pay tribute to lawmakers who are actively committed to a regulated cannabis market, the legislative process did not leave much room for meaningful input from patients, lawyers, and communities most harmed by the cannabis ban,” said Gonzalez.
Photography by Steve Kelley aka Mudpig / Getty Images
Trusted among most market leaders
Some cannabis managers didn’t seem affected by the developments.
Paul Blair, Vice President for Government Affairs for Turning point marks (NYSE: TPB) looked at the recent positive news and highlighted Arizona’s efforts.
“This is the new achievable yardstick for introducing a regulated market that will serve the future interests of voters,” says Blair.
The state’s existing retail framework helped it get online faster than others, he said.
“However, it is clear across the country that public sentiment is rapidly shifting towards market liberalization,” added Blair.
Others weren’t surprised by the delays and said that was the nature of the industry.
“We are not concerned, and to a certain extent we are not overly surprised.” ManifestSeven (CSE: MSVN) CEO Sturges Karban says. “The history of regulatory reform in the cannabis industry has often been fraught with starts and stops, persistent political ambivalence and delays in legislative action.”
Medical Marijuana Inc. (OTC: MJNA) CEO Dr. Stuart Titus also spoke at the booths in New Jersey, Montana and South Dakota.
“This shows what can happen when politics overrides people’s will and creates a stalemate in the introduction of voter-favored programs,” he said.
Despite his worries, Titus sees that every state will pass laws at some point.
This article originally appeared on Benzinga and was republished with permission.