Ohio has legalized recreational cannabis. Click HERE to learn more about cannabis business opportunities in Ohio.

Cannabis News Roundup: AR, WI, WV, MN, NH, SD, VA: Key Cannabis Policy Updates

Recent legislative actions in the United States have seen varied progress in cannabis laws. Arkansas introduced a forward-thinking proposal for both medical and recreational cannabis, including home cultivation. Wisconsin’s medical marijuana bill faced hurdles due to disagreements over state-run dispensaries and access. Minnesota aimed to speed up the opening of cannabis retail stores and simplify licensing. West Virginia’s House Bill 4873 pushed towards legalizing recreational marijuana, focusing on safety and economic benefits. In New Hampshire, lawmakers debated two different approaches to marijuana legalization. South Dakota’s Senate panel upheld patient access to cannabis by rejecting a bill limiting medical marijuana doctors. Lastly, Virginia’s Senate Committee advanced a bill to license adult-use marijuana businesses, indicating a shift towards a regulated cannabis market.

You might also be interested in what the future holds for the cannabis industry in 2024 for these states and the rest of the industry. Our article features predictions from experts with deep industry experience, offering insights into potential trends and developments for the year.

Also, we invite you to the Lucky Leaf Expo, happening April 26-27, 2024, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Join Cannaspire as an exhibitor for industry insights and hear from Warren Harasz, Vice-President of Regulatory Compliance at Cannaspire, on creating a compliance program covering SOPs, recordkeeping, and employee training. Take advantage of this chance for expert advice and networking.

Arkansas’s Progressive Stance on Medical and Recreational Cannabis

On January 12th, Arkansas introduced its forward-thinking proposal for medical and recreational cannabis, marking a significant evolution in the state’s cannabis policy. With the submission of a constitutional amendment by a cannabis industry group, Arkansas is set to authorize home cultivation for medical cannabis patients and pave the way for recreational use pending federal legalization. Since the proposal’s introduction, the Arkansas Department of Health has observed a consistent rise in patient applications, anticipating further growth as the initiative progresses. This expansion includes an increased interest in various cannabis forms, such as flowers, edibles, and concentrates, contributing to an increase in industry activity. The proposal, building on the foundations of the 2016-approved Amendment 98, aims to strengthen the state’s economy, evidenced by early financial analyses predicting positive economic impacts. Arkansas is also looking to broaden its program by issuing new licenses, prioritizing fair access and benefiting communities previously affected by harsh cannabis prohibitions. You may learn more about the current cannabis program in Arkansas by reading our blog article on the topic here.

Wisconsin’s Standoff on Medical Marijuana Legislation

On January 16th, in a recent news conference, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos expressed his unwillingness to compromise with Senate Republicans, who have raised concerns over his proposal, particularly the idea of establishing state-run dispensaries. After extensive negotiations, Vos’s comprehensive bill, needing at least 50 Republican votes to pass, seeks to restrict medical marijuana access to people with serious chronic illnesses like cancer, excluding the option for smokable products. The bill suggests setting up only five state-controlled dispensary locations. This stringent policy stands in sharp contrast to the broader national movement, with 38 states having legalized medical marijuana and 24 permitting recreational use. The momentum for legalization in Wisconsin is increasing as its neighboring states ease their cannabis regulations. To be enacted, the bill must clear both the Senate and Assembly and get the nod from the Democratic Governor Tony Evers, who is in favor of complete legalization but has only shown lukewarm support for this specific medical marijuana proposal. For a comprehensive understanding of Wisconsin’s cannabis program, please refer to this detailed guide.

West Virginia’s Legislative Move Towards Marijuana Legalization

On January 16th, West Virginia’s House of Delegates was presented with House Bill 4873, a significant step towards legalizing recreational marijuana for adults aged 21 and over. This bill mandates that businesses selling marijuana must obtain a license and ensure proper labeling and regulation of cannabis products. The bill aims to enhance safety in product and sales, while also providing additional funding for public employee insurance, salaries, and substance use treatments. This initiative isn’t new to the House of Delegates, as a similar bill failed in 2023. House Bill 4873 represents a pivotal moment in West Virginia’s approach to marijuana policy, balancing public health, safety, and economic considerations.

Minnesota’s Push for Faster Cannabis Market Entry

On January 17th, Minnesota’s cannabis regulators proposed legislative changes to streamline the state’s marijuana licensing process and ensure the opening of at least 381 retail stores. These recommendations, from the Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), aim to address the ongoing issue of unregulated marijuana sources by facilitating a smoother transition to a regulated market. Despite the legalization law’s passage last year, many provisions remain unimplemented, prompting the OCM to suggest removing certain application requirements and introducing temporary licenses, especially for social equity applicants, to expedite market entry. This move is seen as crucial for aligning with Minnesota’s goal of launching commercial sales by 2025 and contrasts with the broader trend of states moving towards more accessible cannabis regulations. The success of these proposals hinges on legislative approval in the upcoming session. You can learn more about the present cannabis program in Minnesota here.

New Hampshire Lawmakers Clash on Marijuana Legalization

On January 24th, lawmakers in New Hampshire recently debated two marijuana legalization proposals, focusing on aligning with the governor’s preferences.The House subcommittee discussed amending the current bill to include a state-controlled store system, but faced opposition from the bill sponsor due to concerns about the state’s role as the sole cannabis industry franchisor. The debate highlighted key issues like the lack of provisions for expunging past cannabis convictions and the absence of dual-use licenses for medical operators. An alternative model was proposed based on the state’s liquor system to reduce state liability, but it was considered impractical. This ongoing debate underscores the challenges in finding a consensus on marijuana legalization in New Hampshire. Stay updated on New Hampshire’s cannabis program, click here.

South Dakota’s Decision on Medical Marijuana Doctor Restrictions

On January 24th, the Senate panel in South Dakota recently rejected Senate Bill 82, which aimed to restrict medical marijuana doctors. The bill proposed that medical marijuana cards be issued only by a patient’s primary care provider or through a referral, and sought to define the term “primary care provider” more strictly. This move was seen as potentially leading to criminal charges for doctors prescribing marijuana without a prior relationship with the patient. The bill’s defeat was influenced by concerns about limiting patient access to medical cannabis, especially for those without a primary care doctor or those served by the Veterans Affairs Health System, which prohibits its doctors from prescribing marijuana. The decision reflects a commitment to keeping medical marijuana accessible in South Dakota. 

Virginia’s Key Steps Toward Legalizing Marijuana Sales

On January 26th, Virginia’s Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services advanced a significant marijuana sales bill, SB 448, with a 10-5 vote. The bill aims to start licensing adult-use marijuana businesses from July, with retail licenses available by 2025. It allows local governments to ban commercial cannabis activities, subject to voter approval. The bill, emphasizing equity and limited licenses, now faces a tight deadline to pass through additional committees and reach the Senate floor by February 13th. This legislation is a critical move in regulating Virginia’s existing unlicensed cannabis market, estimated at $3 billion, and represents a bipartisan effort to establish a fair and regulated market. For more details on Virginia’s cannabis program, you can read more about it here.

Keep an eye out for our email updates and we’ll be sure to let you know about any changes as they occur. Cannaspire can assist you in determining your next steps, obtaining a license, complying with regulations, and other relevant cannabis business services. Please visit this page for further details.