While we recently covered the states of Alabama and Kentucky as they consider passing restrictive medical marijuana legislation, there is a definite national trend as several additional states are also looking to expand their presence via new laws or regulations.
While the main driver behind medical marijuana is the health benefits for many patients within these states, adding medical marijuana programs will create tremendous opportunities for businesses. These opportunities will be in the form of business licenses and ancillary services related to this hot market as well as tax revenue for the states.
The states of Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Rhode Island are considering removing license restrictions for cultivators, processors, and dispensaries or adding patient conditions for qualification. Any expansion in these states will continue the steady growth of medical marijuana programs across the USA.
Arkansas recently awarded its 33rd license, and more are expected to be awarded in 2020 to meet demand. Rhode Island plans to issue six additional retail-only dispensary licenses to add to their existing three dispensaries.
Iowa and New Hampshire are considering adding qualifying conditions for patients. Iowa is also looking to add dispensaries while adding additional patients will boost sales for the existing license holders in New Hampshire. Operators in the state of Minnesota are pushing to legalize smokable flower, claiming that it will help to provide more affordable products for its state’s patient population.
The states of Florida, Maryland, and New Jersey all have court decisions ahead that will determine the scope of their expansion. Florida is weighing issuing individual business licenses and ruling on edibles. Legal challenges involving initial licenses are holding up the next round of licenses in Maryland and New Jersey. These rulings should enable additional sales and more competition in the space.
Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Business Daily, recently that, “Just about every (MMJ) program has been slowly expanding and improving.” And “I think those trends will continue.” She added that expansion will continue as state lawmakers see that the “dire predictions of opponents don’t materialize.”
So patients and businesses wait as these decisions are made in 2020. Some are long shots, and change is sometimes slow, but these mid-market states show that as expansion happens across the country, it doesn’t always take the most significant states to move the needle.
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