U.S. states are pushing for broader cannabis laws to boost economy amid COVID-19 pandemic


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A silver lining is emerging amid the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic – numerous cannabis-focused developments are transpiring across the United States. 

Why? Economic downturn has plagued much of the U.S. mainstream market, with some of the biggest moneymakers struggling to keep up the pace. Lack of employment and the lapsing of stimulus benefits is pushing lawmakers to consider alternative options for rebuilding what has been lost.

Since the U.S. cannabis market was estimated to be worth approximately $11.3 billion in 2018, there’s a good chance that this nascent yet valuable industry could help America’s bludgeoned economy to heal during and post-pandemic.

On that note, let’s take a look at some prospective developments in the U.S. cannabis market amid the COVID-19 virus outbreak:

  • Pennsylvania: Adult-use cannabis legalization was pushed for by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recently. His proposal constitutes part of a larger plan that would help tackle the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Wolf feels confident that the state could generate tax revenue from legal recreational sales to fund restorative justice programs and small business grants. In addition to this, he wants to set aside 50 percent of cannabis sales tax revenue to benefit historically disadvantaged businesses. 
  • Arkansas: With legal medical cannabis sales already having topped $131 million in Arkansas since the program kicked off in May 2019, things are certainly moving in a positive direction. Nine new retailers will bulk up the state’s existing 28 dispensaries, which serve around 721,000 registered patients.
  • Minnesota: A successful medical cannabis vote has taken place in Minnesota’s biggest tribal nation – White Earth Nation. A vote of 994-150 saw the measure pass, meaning that medical cannabis distribution, regulation and production would be legalized across the territory.
  • Vermont: Lawmakers in Vermont are on the fence about legislation to broaden statewide cannabis expungements; pertaining to criminal records tarnished with the possession of two ounces or less of cannabis. Currently, House and Senate lawmakers are trying to finalize details of a bill for cannabis sales tax and regulation.
  • Colorado: A lawsuit fighting against a ballot petition initiative that would permit citywide cannabis dispensaries was not heard by the court, with a judge stating that the court lacked jurisdiction to do so. Now, 2,888 valid signatures must be collected by registered voters; despite the 90-day window being disrupted, the city clerk’s office has announced that additional signatures can be accepted.  
  • Nevada: Cannabis businesses are still going strong amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’d better watch their backs if they want to continue participating in the industry. Why? The Cannabis Compliance Board has released harsher policies for companies that need to renew their licenses or submit past due taxes. An immediate notice will be given to business owners by regulators; access to the METRC database will be revoked if a deadline is missed.
  • Nebraska: A medical cannabis legalization measure has been given the go-ahead by Secretary of State Bob Evnen and will therefore be voted on during the state’s November ballot. Adequate signatures were submitted by Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana submitted in July, but not before opponents tried to banish it from the ballot by claiming that it violates the state constitution.