Weekly Wrapup: Medical Cannabis Makes Progress on East Coast + Big MMJ News in Arizona
When it comes to MMJ legislation, keep a close eye on the East Coast. Medical marijuana is making some solid progress in that region of the country, providing a counterbalance to the troubling developments in the western half of the United States over the past year.
Last week, we reported on two developments that could pave the way for medical marijuana legislation on the East Coast in the near future. These developments could be seen as negative for MMJ on the surface, but it’s important to look at the bigger picture in each case:
- In Massachusetts, an initiative to legalize medical cannabisappears headed for the fall ballot after lawmakers failed to reach a consensus on the issue. Why is this good news? Because it’s probably better left in the hands of voters, who have expressed overwhelming support for medical marijuana in numerous statewide polls over the years. The measure has a strong chance of passing this fall as is, which could be much better than a watered-down version lawmakers might have accepted.
- In New York, a state senator plans to introduce a bill in the coming weeks that calls for the legalization of marijuana for medical uses. While MMJ enjoys solid support in the state, New York’s governor – who would have to sign off on the bill – apparently isn’t yet convinced of the benefits of legalizing medical marijuana. However, he has expressed a willingness to explore the issue further, increasing the chances that an MMJ bill could pass next year.
The picture is even brighter in several other East Coast states. Connecticut and New Hampshire appear ready to pass MMJ legislation, while other areas that have already approved medical cannabis – including New Jersey, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia – are finally moving forward with their cultivation and dispensary programs.
But the good news isn’t confined to the East Coast.
Also last week, we reported on an immensely positive development out West, where raids and a growing federal crackdown have dampened enthusiasm for MMJ. Arizona is set to begin taking applications to run medical marijuana centers, setting the stage for the official launch of the state’s dispensary program after a long delay.