Last November, when four new states voted to legalize marijuana, it seemed like a big step forward for cannabis legislation. And it was, but ten months later, some of these states are having to take a little of little steps backward before they make that giant leap for mankind.
Both Nevada and Massachusetts saw setbacks in their legal cannabis programs this week. Since Nevada went legal in July, its distribution system has been fraught. When Amendment 64 was approved by Nevada voters, it had the peculiar limitation of only licensing liquor wholesalers to distribute cannabis.
In addition to having the whiff of corruption to it, this regulatory quirk also proved to be a pretty bad idea for consumers. The liquor wholesalers turned out to be less than enthusiastic cannabis distributors.
They all waited until only weeks before day one of legal sales apply for their licenses. Not surprisingly, when the legal sales did open in July, the system was not prepared for the huge demand from consumers. An immediate scarcity hit the market and prices spiked up by 200 percent.
The only thing alcohol wholesalers did seem to put their backs into was fighting a legal measure which would have allowed other people (like medical marijuana providers) to get cannabis distribution licenses so that the state could, you know, start distributing cannabis.
That measure was shut down, but a similar one was passed by the Nevada Department of Taxation last month. Except now that measure, too, has been shut down, or “frozen,” according to the Associated Press, until the state’s Supreme Court can hear oral arguments on the issue in early October.
Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, legalization is going more or less well on the state level, but locally it’s not doing so hot. Voters approved legal cannabis last November, so they want it, they just don’t want it in their backyard. More than 100 municipalities statewide have now curbed local pot shops through bans, zoning restrictions, or moratoriums, as the AP reports.
On Tuesday, the city of Milford held a ballot vote over a proposed pot shop ban. 53.6 percent of the city of 28,000 voted in favor, passing the ban.