Cannabis reform protesters gather outside the White House in Washington, DC to call on President Joe Biden to take action against the clemency of cannabis ahead of the November general election on October 24, 2022.
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Marijuana is a multibillion-dollar industry, and legal markets are springing up like weeds across the United States as more states seek the tax revenue and jobs that cash crop brings.
According to an MJBiz Factbook analysis, sales of medical and recreational marijuana are expected to reach $33.6 billion by the end of the year, a trend largely driven by the opening of new markets to adult use.
In Michigan alone, sales of medicinal and recreational items combined brought in about $325 million in tax revenue last year, according to the state cannabis regulator.
Legal weed became a reality in Delaware last month when the state passed two bills aimed at allowing ownership by adults 21 and older and creating a regulatory framework for an adult-use market that will begin to take shape in the coming months should. The state became 22nd to legalize recreational marijuana, following Missouri and Maryland, which did so earlier this year.
The win for the industry caps a “multi-year effort” with “many hurdles along the way,” said Olivia Naugle, senior policy analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project.
“From organizing lobby days, rallies and town halls, testifying on key committees, media relations, voter guides and more, years of effective advocacy and teamwork have helped us reach this moment,” Naugle said.
Similar legalization efforts are underway, fueling momentum in a handful of other states as the marijuana industry grows. Some states are even moving forward with proposals or voting measures to legalize cannabis, bringing it within reach of recreational markets.
These are the states that have a chance to legalize adult-use marijuana in the coming years.
Leif Hamre of Minneapolis attends a rally at the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota April 23, 2014, held by members of the Minnesota NORML in support of cannabis legalization.
Jerry Holt | Star Tribune | Getty Images
For the first time in a decade, Minnesota’s Democrats control both houses of the state legislature and the governor’s office, a trifecta that puts the state on the verge of legalizing marijuana.
Minnesota Cannabis Law founder Jason Tarasek said a definitive bill is being sought Ending cannabis prohibition and establishing a regulated market will be on Gov. Tim Walz’s desk and signed into law in the coming weeks. The Minnesota House and Senate have passed separate versions of the legislation, and lawmakers from both parties are now ironing out key elements of a final bill, including tax rates and the deletion of previous criminal charges or convictions related to marijuana.
“Legalization will also create hundreds, if not thousands, of new jobs, eliminate the illicit market, and allow law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes,” Tarasek said.
Medical marijuana is already legal in Minnesota, and a majority of state residents support its recreational use.
Walz has expressed support for the bill, and Tarasek expects him to enact it before the current legislative session adjourns on May 22.
Jared Sadler harvests marijuana plants at a Cresco Labs grow facility in Indiantown, Florida.
John McCall | Getty Images
Florida is about 50,000 signatures away from putting a proposed constitutional amendment on the 2024 ballot that would allow recreational use of marijuana.
Proponents of legalization in Florida have collected 841,130 valid signatures statewide of the 891,589 needed for the change, according to the Florida Electoral Commission’s website. The state updates the petition count at the end of each month.
Once the measure, which focuses narrowly on allowing recreational use in the state, is put on the ballot, there’s a good chance it will pass. A poll by the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab found that 70% of respondents “strongly” or “somewhat” support the change.
The measure does not set a framework for what a legal market would look like.
Florida legalized the sale of medical marijuana in 2016 and it has grown into a billion dollar business. According to data from research firm Headset, legal sales from January 2022 to July 2022 were $1.04 billion.
“Florida currently has one of the strongest medical cannabis programs in America, and as this market expands to include adult use for personal consumption, we believe the market will be even stronger,” said Lauren Niehaus, Executive Director of Government Relations at Trulieve.
The company, which operates more than 180 medical dispensaries in the state, has donated $30 million to Smart & Safe Florida, the committee supporting the change.
“Trulieve envisions that Florida could potentially become a $6 billion cannabis marketplace at maturity,” Niehaus said.
Ohio may vote on whether to legalize recreational marijuana in November.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has a proposal aimed at creating a system in which marijuana would be regulated and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol. After the state legislature decided not to pass the proposal, the group must collect 124,000 signatures from registered voters by July 5 to get the proposal on the ballot.
“We are confident that Ohio will legalize marijuana for all adults by 2023,” said Thomas Haren, a spokesman for the group. “This is an issue that transcends political boundaries. It’s popular with Democrats, independents and Republicans.”
About half of Ohio voters support legalizing adult use, according to a poll conducted by Emerson College. The voters most likely to support legalization are Democrats at 66.2%, followed by Independents at 50% and Republicans at 36.3%, according to the poll.
Haren said the proposal also plans to build on Ohio’s medical marijuana program and grant additional adult-use licenses to new companies.
He estimates that Ohio would generate $350 million to $400 million in new tax revenue under the proposed framework. Researchers at Ohio State University estimate that tax revenues in the fifth year of an operative adult-use marijuana market would range from $276 million to $374 million.
Brad Horrigan | Tribune News Service | Getty Images
Pennsylvania is increasingly surrounded by states with established recreational markets, including New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware.
If the state, the fifth most populous in the country, legalizes cannabis, profits can stay within its borders.
There are three separate proposals from lawmakers hoping to regulate but also capitalize on marijuana. The state’s Democrat-held House of Representatives announced proposals in January and February, while the Republican-held Senate announced one in December. They all seek, to varying degrees, to tax crops for the benefit of communities and include initiatives aimed at social justice.
However, marijuana attorney Brian Vicente said that Pennsylvania is lagging behind in trying to legalize marijuana.
“Pennsylvania is just a tough hill to climb,” said Vicente, who keeps an eye on what’s happening in the Commonwealth. “We didn’t have the same dynamic in the legislature there, but the governor supports it, so it’s possible it can get through this year.”
According to a Muhlenberg College poll, just one in four adults in Pennsylvania opposes legalization, with 56% supporting changing the existing law. The state has had medical marijuana since 2018.