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The cannabis business grew substantially and the marijuana policy reform movement continued to get steam in 2018. Any doubts about no matter whether they have gone mainstream have been eliminated, as traditionally conservative states like Oklahoma, Missouri, and Utah authorized healthcare cannabis initiatives by strong margins. Momentum is developing steadily heading into 2019, which could be one more banner year for cannabis.

Numbers Matter

California and Massachusetts are properly on their way to becoming two of the biggest regulated cannabis markets in the globe.

The population of California alone — roughly 40 million — dwarfs that of each and every other legal active industry combined. Though smaller sized in population, Massachusetts is a key East Coast industry with a lot of wealth and densely populated neighboring states to assistance create some eye-popping sales figures ($two.two million in its initial 5 days). Aggregate U.S. legal cannabis sales could raise by about $five billion in 2019 with various new markets coming on the web, according to Andrew Livingston, Director of Economics and Analysis at Vicente Sederberg.

These numbers are not just excellent news for operators and business participants.

They also attract the consideration of institutional investors and big enterprises that hold important sway more than the political method. The bigger the regulated industry becomes, the tougher it is for lawmakers in Congress to ignore — and the closer we get to ending federal prohibition.

States Are Going Large! Will Other individuals Adhere to Suit?

One particular of the key concerns cannabis industry players and policy wonks are watching closely is no matter whether states limit the general quantity of licenses they make accessible. Though early legalization states like Colorado, Washington, and Oregon permitted for a big quantity of licenses, a lot of other states have issued only a restricted quantity and permitted government regulators to pick industry participants. These restricted markets have been marred by lawsuits, a lack of innovation, and larger rates for customers:

  • When transitioning to an adult use industry, Massachusetts has adopted a far more totally free-industry method just after beginning with a drastically restricted healthcare industry.
  • California and Nevada, which legalized at the exact same time as Massachusetts, also have no statutory limitation on the quantity of adult-use licenses.
  • In 2018, Michigan (adult use) and Oklahoma (healthcare) joined the roster of states permitting limitless licenses. With a population of 10 million people today and supportive policy makers, Michigan is poised to grow to be a big cannabis industry, exactly where actual competitors can assistance spur innovation.
  • Similarly, Oklahoma could grow to be an unexpected leader in the cannabis space, obtaining currently issued two,254 licenses — far more than triple Massachusetts and Nevada combined.

Of course it remains to be noticed no matter whether there will be sufficient demand to hold all of these licensees afloat.

The trend could continue into 2019, as legalization efforts are heating up in states across the nation, like New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. All of these states have restricted markets in spot, some of which absurdly only have a handful of enterprises. No matter whether the subsequent batch of states adhere to suit and legalize with a totally free industry method will have key implications for the future, specifically as innovation and competitors are concerned.

Is This the Year?

In addition to achievement at the state level, cannabis policy reform advocates have been creating tremendous strides at the federal level. Sen. Cory Gardner’s current try to add language from the STATES Act to a broader criminal justice reform bill that was operating its way by way of Congress sets the stage for important alter in 2019.

With each and every state-level cannabis policy victory, far more and far more federal representatives obtain themselves with cannabis constituents: company owners, staff, investors, and legal customers urging them to advocate for their rights. This has helped to align the incentives among each parties to pass some form of cannabis reform this year.

No matter whether it is a thing like the STATES Act or tax parity and banking access, the removal of problematic federal policies must raise access to capital and alter the landscape of cannabis markets across the nation.

At this time subsequent year, it is probable we will obtain ourselves hunting back on 2019 as the year the cannabis neighborhood cemented its victory at the federal level. In any case, the fight will not be more than, and there will a lot of battles to come. Some states may perhaps move gradually, and there will be nations that drag their feet. There are nonetheless crucial concerns that want to be resolved, such as social use, parental rights, and record expungement.

The stage appears to be set for important advancement in 2019, and it is up to all of us to do our aspect to assistance finish cannabis prohibition.



Jordan Wellington is the Chief Compliance Officer at Simplifya, the nation’s major cannabis compliance computer software. Previously, Jordan served as the sole policy analyst assigned to shepherd the legalization of cannabis by way of the Colorado Common Assembly and then the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division. These days, Jordan focuses his efforts on assisting cannabis enterprises, consultants, law firms, and governments handle compliance expectations by way of Simplifya’s ever evolving set of attributes and advises policy makers from across the globe on the accountable regulation of cannabis.