Despite marijuana legalization in more than 20 states in the US, businesses dabbling in cannabis continue to be prosecuted by both local and federal authorities. State laws remain too broad and undefined, hence leaving businesses with little direction when it comes to complying with legal standards.
The solution? Comprehensive regulation.
In Michigan, the Michigan Responsibility Council (MRC) aims to put a ballot initiative before voters this year to create sensible regulations for the medical cannabis program of the state. In the past several months, several medical cannabis dispensaries in Michigan have been shut down due to the lack of state-wide standards on what really constitutes a legal operation.
“We’ve come to the conclusion that we have to walk before we run,” said MRC chair Paul Welday in an interview with The Huffington Post. “We have to fix what’s broken before we start to add on to a system that needs our help. And that’s what we’re going to go.”
The same thing is happening to medical cannabis powerhouse California, as hundreds of dispensaries in Los Angeles alone have been shuttered because of undefined laws. Many of them don’t have the resources to defend themselves, ultimately leading to business closures.
As a response to this problem, California legislature is aiming to set down more comprehensive regulations before next year’s possible ballot initiative for the legalization of recreational marijuana.
“There is real potential a legalization initiative will set the tone for regulation and taxation, and if the legislature wants to be involved, now is the time,” said Natasha Minsker, director of California’s ACLU.
However, comprehensive regulation also opens up the possibility of making the environment more restrictive to cannabis businesses, as in the case of Illinois, New York, and Minnesota. Still, advocates believe that this is all the more reason for leaders to take an active role in shaping marijuana laws, like what is being done in Washington and Colorado.
This is the only way for the cannabis industry to thrive and become sustainable in the long run.
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