The Cannabis Industry in 2018: ‘Hotel California’ and More
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In the second line of Hotel California, the Eagles sing, “Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air,” and that became legal in California on January 1, 2018. As California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control opened its doors, more than 400 businesses already held licenses. Although the legalization of cannabis in California made some of the biggest news of the year, many other changes are impacting the industry, and more lie ahead in 2018.
The cannabis laws are also changing in Colorado. In the past, adults over the age of 21 could possess six cannabis plants, with only three of them flowering at once, but as of January 1, 2018, Colorado residents can maintain a dozen plants. Those state laws, though, might be adjusted by local ones. So, anyone in Colorado should check around before increasing the size of a home crop. For example, some cities—including Denver—limit the number of plants to a dozen per household, no matter how many adults live there.
As some states roll out new laws, others cast votes that will drive even more cannabis changes. Just after the first of the year, for example, state legislators in Vermont’s House voted 81 to 63 in favor of legalizing cannabis possession and cultivating it at home. To impact Vermont’s citizens, Vermont’s Senate must vote too and then it goes to the governor.
The cannabis market in the United States in 2018 and beyond, though, will also depend on what happens at the federal level. On January 4, 2018, US Attorney General Jeff Session rescinded the Cole memo, which encouraged prosecutors to follow state laws instead of the federal prohibition of cannabis. Does this mean that the Trump administration will encourage federal prosecutors to enforce cannabis laws?
So far, some US experts show little concern. In an opinion piece on CNN, Michael Chernis—an attorney in California who specializes in issues related to the cannabis industry—wrote that Session’s “announcement was met with little more than a yawn by cannabis businesses.” He added, “The medical and legal cannabis industry has grown so big that it would be impossible to make a dent in it—let alone stamp it out through federal enforcement.”
Many states have milestones planned for 2018. For example, Ohio’s medical marijuana program is scheduled to be operational on September 8. The momentum among the states is probably only getting started.