If you haven’t noticed, cannabis sales are increasing worldwide. According to the report on the state of the legal cannabis markets of Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics, legal weed revenues worldwide tripled between 2014 and 2018 to $ 10.9 billion, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
However, the United States, the most lucrative market for marijuana in the world, remains a hostile place for cannabis, at least at the federal level. Despite growing public support to legalise cannabis at the national level, lawmakers have stood firm in their classification of marijuana in Annex I. This ensures that it remains completely illegal at the federal level.
However, this has not prevented individual states from legalising cannabis in any way in the past 23 years. Starting with California in 1996, a total of 33 countries have legalised medical marijuana. Of these 33 states, 11 have passed laws that allow legal consumption and the sale of recreational marijuana. And this could only be the beginning.
In 2020, an important election year, six states are currently trying to obtain an initiative or amendment of recreational marijuana on their ballots. It is understandable that these initiatives or modifications are in the stage of review or compilation of signatures at this time, which does not guarantee that they will eventually reach a ballot in November 2020. However, the wheels have been set in motion to potentially legalise adult weed in the following six states (listed in alphabetical order).
Arguably, the most logical state to try to pass a recreational marijuana law in 2020 is Arizona. The Grand Canyon State attempted to approve a recreational marijuana initiative in 2016, and voters disapprove of the measure. However, historically we have seen second attempts at legalisation happen. This is what happened previously in California and Oregon, and is expected to occur in Arizona in 2020.
For example, the Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative would legalise cannabis for consumption and purchase to anyone over the age of 18. Taxes collected on legal cannabis would be used to fund schools, as well as to help boost funding for state health programs. Similar to the Illinois recreational marijuana bill, it would also aim to provide relief to people previously convicted of marijuana crimes.
The legalisation of recreational marijuana in Arizona would be a good boost for the multi-state operator (MSO) Harvest Health & Recreation (OTC: HRVSF). Harvest Health is not exactly the best-known dispensary operator in the country. Still, on a pro forma basis (that is if all pending purchases are closed) it has more retail store licenses than any other MSO. Harvest Health currently has ten stores in Arizona, which gives it a notable presence in what could be a cannabis battlefield state next year.
In Arkansas, there are no less than three constitutional amendments initiated at the stage of collecting signatures that would effectively address recreational cannabis and perceived social injustices caused by the imprisonment of marijuana-related sentences. Both the Arkansas Marijuana Legalization Initiative and the Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Initiative would legalise adult-use marijuana for those over 21 years of age.
Unlike Arizona, Arkansas will probably be a long shot at the recreational grass with a green light. Although support for adult marijuana is growing nationwide, Arkansas residents had to wait more than two years after passing a medical cannabis measure in November 2016 before sales of medicinal herb began. This is also a state that tends to lean toward Republican lawmakers: Republicans are less likely to support the legalisation of marijuana. This makes the three constitutional amendments a little risky at the moment.
Like Arkansas, the State of the Sun has a series of constitutional amendments initiated that are in the signature collection stage to amend the state’s medical-marijuana program or legalise recreational cannabis.
For example, the Florida Marijuana Legalization Initiative would authorise the possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis by residents 21 years and older. There would also be a home-grown option that would allow up to six plants per home, with no more than three blooms at a time. These plants would also have to be in a closed and enclosed space, and could not be sold.
Florida has already had great success with its medical marijuana program, so recreational legalisation should be considered a blessing for an MSO such as Trulieve Cannabis (OTC: TCNNF). Even with a small presence in California, Massachusetts and Connecticut, Trulieve has focused almost all its attention on the Florida market. Trulieve has opened 39 stores in the state of the sun to date and is one of the few marijuana reserves in North America that is already profitable regularly.
Another constitutional amendment initiated comes to us from Missouri. Currently in the signature collection phase, the Missouri Marijuana Legalization and Elimination Initiative would alter the constitution of the state so that it is no longer illegal to use, grow or sell cannabis on a commercial level. It would also throw previous convictions for non-violent marijuana crimes, similar to what Illinois did. Interestingly, this bill would also prohibit the taxation of medical marijuana recommended by a doctor.
Like Arkansas, the only complication here is that the people of Missouri only legalised medical marijuana by vote a year ago, and the product was only available in licensed dispensaries in recent months. With little waiting time to build the appropriate sales infrastructure, it is not clear what kind of support a recreational legalisation measure would generate in the Show-Me state.
5. New Jersey
The Garden State seemed on track to legalise recreational marijuana at the legislative level earlier this year, but efforts to wave the green flag finally crumbled before reaching the finish line.
While Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, and his state legislature agreed on his desire to legalise cannabis use for adults, there had been a difference of opinion on the proper tax rate. Once the tax rate debate seemed to be resolved, individual lawmakers insisted on the measure, including the elimination of previous convictions for cannabis offences. This did not sit well with some of the more moderate legislators in New Jersey, and the measure ended stagnantly.
The New Jersey Marijuana Legalization Amendment is a constitutional amendment referred to by law to legalise recreational weed. You can reach the ballot through a 60% vote of both houses of the state legislature during a single session, or a majority vote in both houses during two successive meetings. Like Arizona, New Jersey seems to have an excellent opportunity to legalise cannabis for adults in 2020.
6. South Dakota
Last but not least, the South Dakota Marijuana and Hemp Initiative is a constitutional amendment initiated that is currently collecting signatures. If approved, the measure would legalise the possession, use, transportation and sale of cannabis for adults for people 21 years and older. The South Dakota Department of Revenue would be responsible for issuing all licenses for cultivation, testing, distribution and retail sale, with a 15% tax rate applied to legal weed sales. These tax revenues would first cover the costs associated with the governance of the cannabis industry, with the reminder addressed to state schools and the General Fund.
It is worth noting that South Dakota is the only one of these six states that have not passed legislation on medical marijuana, so this initiative would also require the state legislature to establish laws on medical cannabis, as well as laws on the cultivation, processing, and sale of hemp.
Given that South Dakota does not have an existing marijuana infrastructure, jumping from everything illegal to a green light for all could be a lot to ask.