FILE – In this May 25, 2020, file photo, agents Amanda Toma and Ashley Brodeur work with customers outside in the parking lot of cannabis purveyor Berkshire Roots in Pittsfield, Mass. Laws legalizing recreational marijuana may lead to more traffic deaths, two new studies suggest, although questions remain about how they might influence driving habits. Previous research has had mixed results and the new studies, published Monday, June 22, 2020, in JAMA Internal Medicine, can’t prove that the traffic death increases they found were caused by marijuana use. (Gillian Jones/The Berkshire Eagle via AP, File)
[Canniseur: This is the worst kind of journalism. We’re seeing a lot of it lately. The story essentially says that stoned drivers are impaired and it’s a throwback to the 1970s and Nixon. We do not need unsubstantiated and uncorroborated stories like this. We call bogus on this story.]
The Associated Press recently disclosed the results of two new studies attempting to determine the impact on traffic deaths in states that have legalized recreational marijuana.
Both suggested that laws legalizing recreational marijuana may lead to more traffic fatalities.
We wouldn’t think a comprehensive study would be required to reach that conclusion.
The studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reflect previous research, which couldn’t substantiate that the traffic death increases found were caused by marijuana use.
One study found 75 more traffic deaths per year after retail sales began in Colorado in January 2014, compared with states without similar laws. But it found no similar change in Washington state. However, when the two-state study was done, pot stores were more densely located in Colorado than in Washington, which could have made the drug more readily available, the authors said.
Both reviews culled several years of traffic death data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration before and at least two years after retail sales of recreational pot began in the states examined.
The studies’ lack of a definitive link between additional traffic fatalities in recreational-pot states stems from their inability to determine whether motorists were under the influence of marijuana when the crash occurred.
Since marijuana can remain in human tissues for several days, even if toxicology tests detected it in a fatal crash, that wouldn’t prove the driver was impaired, said co-author Magdalena Cerda, a New York University researcher.
We’ve already exposed that detection flaw in the Massachusetts law that legalized recreational pot.
Gov. Charlie Baker tried to close that loophole with a bill that would give police new tools to crack down on drug-impaired drivers.
That legislation, based on recommendations from the Special Commission on Operating Under the Influence and Impaired Driving, would extend restrictions similar to those already in place for alcohol impairment to motorists affected by or in possession of marijuana.
While we certainly agreed with the governor’s attempt to crack down on impaired driving, the differences between alcohol and marijuana don’t lend themselves to similar enforcement.
It’s been established that THC — the main psychoactive compound in marijuana responsible for the “high” sensation — remains in the blood stream far longer than its incapacitating effects, thus rendering a Breathalyzer-type test inconclusive or misleading.
That also seems to be the opinion of the state’s highest court. In a 2017 ruling, the SJC said field sobriety tests typically used in drunken-driving cases cannot be treated as conclusive evidence that a motorist was operating under the influence of marijuana.
In this state, the concern over driving while stoned redoubled the public-safety sector’s awareness efforts last December during the holiday season.
The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security purchased televised advertisements, gas station TV spots and posters for bars and restaurants warning about the dangers of impaired driving, focusing on marijuana.
We don’t need high-brow medical research to realize that in Massachusetts and other recreational-pot states, your chances of running into a substance-impaired motorist can only increase.
And that collision could cause serious injury or death.
[Canniseur: States willing to legalize and voters willing to vote on legalization are showing to be two different things. In a few states where the legislatures had the opportunity to legalize, the lawmakers have deferred to the voters. If their deferment was real, then the voters will decide. But if their deferral was because they were too scared to vote it in on their own, then they should be voted out of office.]
Despite its numerous growing pains over the past year and change, marijuana remains one of the fastest expanding industries on the planet. After logging $10.9 billion in legal worldwide sales in 2018, Wall Street has global pot sales hitting anywhere from $50 billion to $200 billion by 2030.
Although cannabis is a global growth story, there’s no question that the U.S. is at the center of this expansion. The United States is already responsible for the lion’s share of legal weed sales, in spite of the fact that marijuana remains a Schedule I (i.e., illicit) substance at the federal level. Even with presidential candidates Joe Biden (D) and Donald Trump (R) unlikely to alter this classification, that’s not going to stop legalization momentum at the state level.
With less than five months left before Americans hit the polls, a dozen states have proposed various marijuana initiatives, 10 of which are looking to legalize medical marijuana, recreational cannabis, or both at the same time. While many of these proposals are still in the signature gathering stage or pending official review, the following four states look to have the best chance to “go green” come November.
Image source: Getty Images.
Perhaps the state with the best chance of legalization is the Garden State. In December, New Jersey’s two legislative houses voted very decisively in favor of putting a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would legalize recreational marijuana. Similar to the other states to have OK’d the recreational consumption and sale of adult-use weed, adults 21 and over would be allowed to purchase cannabis, and an excise tax would be collected on all sales.
According to a Monmouth University poll released in April, 61% of New Jersey voters favor the legalization of adult-use cannabis, which would appear to signal a victory is imminent for pot enthusiasts come Election Day.
Of course, Curaleaf(OTC:CURL.F) will be doing some cheering of its own. Curaleaf already has a medical marijuana presence in the Garden State, and it’ll likely aim to use its deep pockets to build a considerably larger presence in what could well become a state capable of more than $1 billion in annual pot sales. Among U.S. multistate operators, none have more currently operational dispensaries than Curaleaf.
Image source: Getty Images.
Although Arizona has five separate marijuana initiatives being considered at the moment, and none of them are a lock to make it onto the ballot, it, too, looks to have an inside path to adult-use legalization.
Why Arizona? Back in 2016, it was the only one of nine states whose medical or recreational pot initiative/amendment didn’t pass. Arizona’s Proposition 205 came awfully close, with the “yes” votes for the measure totaling nearly 48%. History has shown that when adult-use legalization initiatives wind up on a ballot a second time following an initial defeat, they pass. This is what happened in both California and Oregon last decade.
Based on a new poll highlighted this week by Marijuana Moment, a whopping 65% of likely Arizona voters favor adult-use legalization, which is up considerably from the 54% support garnered last year in favor of legalization.
Though it’s struggled of late, Harvest Health & Recreation(OTC:HRVS.F) would absolutely welcome the idea of recreational legalization throughout the Grand Canyon State. Harvest Health has the largest presence among multistate operators in Arizona, and has pared down its expansion activities in recent months to conserve capital, likely giving it even more reason to focus on its home market.
Mississippi voters will face up to two questions when they go to the polls in November. The first requests their vote (in a roundabout way) on whether medical marijuana should be legalized in their state. Should they agree with legalization, they’ll then need to pick between Initiative 65 and Initiative 65A. Initiative 65 allows for a more lax use of medical cannabis by patients with more than 20 qualifying conditions. Meanwhile, Initiative 65A would make smoking medical pot available only to terminally ill patients and dramatically increase the medical oversight of patients using cannabis.
A survey conducted by Millsaps College and Chism Strategies earlier this year found that 67% of respondents favored the idea of legalizing access to medical cannabis, with just 24% opposed.
Although Mississippi is unlikely to be a major target of pot stocks in a post-legalization environment, we could see larger players dip their toes into the pond if the less-restrictive Initiative 65 passes.
Image source: Getty Images.
Lastly, the Mount Rushmore State appears to have a really good shot at legalizing marijuana in some form. That’s because South Dakota is the first state to put a medical marijuana measure and a recreational initiative in front of voters at the same time. Currently, cannabis is illegal throughout the state.
First up in Constitutional Amendment A, which would legalize recreational marijuana, and require the state’s legislature to pass laws providing for the use of medical weed and hemp by no later than April 1, 2022. The other possibility is Measure 26, which supports establishing a medical marijuana program in South Dakota for patients with qualifying debilitating conditions.
While it’s unclear if South Dakota would have enough support to go from marijuana being completely illegal to recreationally allowed (cannabis surveys in the Mount Rushmore State are hard to come by), the numbers are on medical pot enthusiasts’ side. Nationally, around 9 in 10 Americans support the idea of legalized access to medical cannabis products. Even in traditionally conservative states, favorability tends to handily outweigh opposition. This makes it pretty likely that Measure 26 passes with ease on Election Day.
Sean Williams has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
[Canniseur: The Library of Congress has published long-overdue documentation of the racist news coverage used 80 years ago to justify the criminalization of cannabis. The media was complicit and racist in its printing of stories leading to the eventual ban of marijuana. We know this racist-inspired decision was spearheaded by Harry Anslinger in the 1930s. Anslinger was a rabid racist. Cannabis was made illegal in 1937 and this documentation only goes to 1915, but it’s a start.]
The Library of Congress (LOC) is documenting racist depictions of marijuana in early 20th century news coverage that helped to drive the criminalization of cannabis, highlighting sensationalized articles about the plant that the federal research body says effectively served as “anti-Mexican propaganda.”
As part of the institution’s “Chronicling America” project, which digitizes media from throughout U.S. history, LOC published a timeline last week that gives examples of headlines concerning cannabis from 1897 to 1915.
“From the late 19th to early 20th century, newspapers reported the early rise of marihuana (known today as marijuana),” the post states. “Alarming reports of the menace of marihuana reach the United States press. Tales of alleged atrocities fueled by the drug are often tied to anti-Mexican propaganda.”
On a landing page featuring links to the digitized newspaper clippings, LOC warns: “Some of the linked articles contain ethnic slurs and offensive characterizations.”
One early article on marijuana, published in The Sun in August 1897, said that the plant “continues to impel people of the lower orders to wild and desperate deeds.”
In a separate 1897 piece in the Tombstone Prospector, which reported on an alleged attempt to smuggle cannabis into a prison, marijuana is characterized as “a kind of a loco weed which is more powerful than opium.”
Via Library of Congress.
“The Mexicans mix it with tobacco and smoke it in cigarettes, which causes a hilarity not equalled by any other form of dissipation,” it continues. “When smuggled inside the prison walls the Mexicans readily pay $4 an ounce for it, but outside it is only worth about 50 cents an ounce.”
One 1887 Memphis Appeal piece ran with the shocking headline, “Senseless Brutality. A Mexican Priest Flogs the Corpse of a Dead Wizard.”
A 1904 article—titled “Dangerous Mexican Weed to Smoke”—relays a story about two people who got the “marihuana habit,” consumed cannabis and “after a few minutes ran amuck” before being hospitalized.
“It is feared that the two men, if they recover from their wounds, will lose their minds permanently, as is the case often with marihuana smokers,” the report said.
Even early articles on marijuana policy contained language that stereotyped marijuana as a “Mexican drug” or “Indian hemp,” as was the case in an El Paso Herald piece published in 1915 after the City Council approved legislation to prohibit cannabis.
The Ogden Standard in 1915 published a story that features especially racist language.
Via Library of Congress.
“Are the Mexicans becoming a mightier and braver race, or in the language of Texas, are they becoming ‘locoed?’” the article asks. “Reports received here indicate that the sudden burst of bravery on the part of the Mexicans is due to an increased use of the weed known as Marihuana, which has much the same effects as opium or morphine on its users.”
“When a Mexican is under the influence of Marihuana he imagines that he can, single-handed, whip the entire regular United States army, while if reinforced by several other Mexicans, he might include a few European nations in his dream conquests,” it continues. “While under the influence of marihuana Mexicans are liable to commit murder and when arrested give the authorities great trouble.”
Such openly racist rhetoric around cannabis has largely dissipated from news coverage in recent years as support for ending criminalization continues to grow. But as numerous policymakers have pointed out, the racial inequities associated with enforcement of prohibition laws are far from gone.
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) discussed the role of marijuana criminalization and the broader drug war in perpetuating racial injustices last week, and they remarked on how black people are significantly more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession compared to white people despite similar rates of consumption.
That measure came one week after 44 members of the House sent a letter to the Justice Department, calling for an independent investigation into a fatal police shooting of Taylor in a botched drug raid.
[Cannabis: Let’s face it and I think we have already. Cannabis was demonized and made illegal in the 1930s precisely to control the African American population. The prohibition was racist. It was NOT based on science. It was based on racist, uninformed, harmful and incomprehensible views about black people. It’s been time to end the prohibition for a while and the Federal Government just won’t declassify marijuana. There are nor reasons left to not declassify cannabis. None. Let’s get it done. I don’t know that the democrats have the stomach for it if they win in November, but we may find out.]
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) discussed the role of marijuana criminalization and the broader drug war in perpetuating racial injustices during an online town hall on Wednesday.
The former 2020 presidential candidates touched on a variety of drug-related policy issues. For example, Booker brought up an ongoing ban on access to coronavirus relief programs for business owners with prior drug convictions and said it’s an example of why the two senators “talk about marijuana justice all the time.”
“I’m all for legalization,” Booker said. “But to say that in the same breath and not to include expunging records, reinvesting profits into communities that have been economically devastated by the drug war—you’re not talking about justice if you suddenly say, ‘okay, everybody started in the same field, go ahead.’”
“All these big companies—pharmaceutical companies, others—are getting into the marijuana business,” he said. “Yet blacks in many states can’t even qualify for a license because they have nonviolent drug charges. All of these issues, you’re stripping people of their political power, their economic power, by over-criminalizing a population.”
All over this country, the American people are demanding justice and an end to police brutality. Join me and Sen. @CoryBooker for a live town hall on the fight for racial and economic justice and how Congress must act in this moment: https://t.co/ZrKPH02U9j
“I was astounded by the hands that went up,” he said. “Then if you get a criminal record, as you discussed earlier, right? You’re looking for a job and the boss says, ‘have you ever been arrested?’ ‘Well, yeah, I have been.’ ‘Okay, well, thank you, we’ll interview somebody else.’”
We must end the criminalization of marijuana, expunge past records for marijuana-related offenses, and invest in communities harmed by the failed war on drugs. pic.twitter.com/80OsahjjNW
Booker noted that there’s “no difference between blacks and whites for using drugs. In fact, young white men have a little bit higher rates of dealing drugs than black men.” Yet black people are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for a marijuana offense.
“Now you get a nonviolent drug charge for doing something that two of the three last presidents admitted to doing,” the senator said. “Now you have 40,000 collateral consequences that strip you from your economic power. You can’t get Pell grants, can’t get public housing, can’t get jobs, can’t get loans from the bank.”
Booker raised many of these points earlier this month during an interview with MSNBC, where he highlighted systemic social issues—including racial disparities in marijuana enforcement—that need to be addressed as people across the country protest police killings of black Americans.
[Canniseur: This destructive raid seems like police overreach. I can understand a raid, but destroying evidence before a guilty plea, just feels overwhelmingly wrong. Perhaps Chula Vista should legalize recreational cannabis, allowing for regulated purchases. That sounds like a more logical approach than brute force.}
Chula Vista doesn’t have any fully licensed cannabis dispensaries, but cops are still focused on stomping out unlicensed pot shops. This time, police destroyed display cases and store infrastructure to prevent a black market operation from reopening.
Police in Chula Vista, California went the extra mile during the raid of an unlicensed cannabis dispensary this week. In addition to confiscating hundreds of pounds of weed and thousands in cash, cops also brought along heavy duty construction equipment that was used to extract and destroy large shelving and display cabinets from the store.
According to a report from the San Diego Union-Tribune, cops took more than $10,000 in cash and $500,000 worth of cannabis products. But in an effort to try and prevent the unregulated dispensary from reopening shop in the coming days or weeks, cops didn’t stop with the seizures, and continued by ripping display cases out of the building, where they were then crushed and tossed into the back of a dump truck. In footage of the raid, one of the display cases can be seen still packed with weed products.
“The Police Department has a responsibility to maintain the health and safety of the community and its own personnel. This may include the mitigation of safety hazards and the reduction of the occurrence and re-occurrence of crime — including the occurrence and re-occurrence of illegal cannabis operations,” Chula Vista PD Captain Phil Collum told the Union-Tribune. “As previously stated, all search warrants and court orders (including the warrant service from the other day) as they relate to the search, seizure, or destruction of property are conducted with specific authorization and approval provided by the Superior Court.”
In the years since the Golden State fully legalized adult-use cannabis sales, cities across California have struggled to shut down the area’s vast network of unlicensed dispensaries. Despite frequent raids, unregulated pot shops often reopen in the same or nearby storefronts shortly after police leave. The Chula Vista police strategy to destroy dispensary infrastructure along with the weed appears to be a new method in slowing those rapid reopenings.
“I’ve worked with a lot of search warrants, a lot of drug cases, and I’ve never heard of that before,” Attorney Kerry Armstrong told the Union-Tribune. “It is just odd, really odd… They are destroying evidence, even before a court case is filed.”
But due to lenient punishment for cannabis crimes in the wake of legalization, most California dispensary raids are not prosecuted in criminal court. Instead, most police departments and district attorneys opt for seizures, fines, and now — thanks to Chula Vista PD — destruction of shelving and display cabinets.
[Canniseur: Knowing the cannabis laws in your state is pretty important. Florida’s cannabis laws are complex and severe, but have been evolving. If you’re one of the many tourists attracted to Florida, or even if you’re a resident, learn how to stay out of trouble. ]
Updated May 2020
Historically Florida has had a strong anti-marijuana stance — but recently the state has made some significant steps forward. Recreational marijuana remains illegal, but in 2016 voters approved a comprehensive medical marijuana program. Learn more about Florida marijuana laws below.
Recreational Marijuana in Florida
Florida has some of the harshest recreational marijuana laws in all of the United States. The possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana is charged as a misdemeanor with one year imprisonment and a fine of $1,000. Possession, use, or sale of anything greater than 20 grams is charged as a felony with prison time ranging from five years to 30 years and up to $200,000 in fines. Also, if you are convicted of a marijuana-related offense, the state of Florida can suspend your driver’s license for one year.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Marijuana
A mandatory minimum sentence is when a judge must sentence the defendant to at least the outlined mandatory minimum amount of jail time for violating a specified law. With other offenses, the judge is given some wiggle room to consider special circumstances, adjusting the defendant’s jail time to reflect the specifics of their individual case. However, with a mandatory minimum sentence, there is no ability to adjust the sentence based on the circumstances.
Many Florida marijuana laws include a mandatory minimum sentence for both possession and sale. For example, possession of between 25 and 2,000 lbs. of marijuana comes with a mandatory minimum sentence of three years, and possession of 2,000 to 10,000 lbs. of marijuana comes with a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years of jail time.
Is Hash Legal Under Florida Marijuana Laws?
Also known as hashish, hash is an extremely potent cannabis product that is made using the resin found on marijuana plants. Hash features high levels of THC, so possessing any amount in Florida is classified as a felony. Being caught in possession of hash can result in up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine. Selling, delivering, or manufacturing hash is also a felony, and carries the same penalties as a possession.
Marijuana Concentrate in Florida
Marijuana concentrate is another highly potent form of cannabis, with all excess plant materials filtered out of the final product, leaving users with a very strong concentrate that only features cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Marijuana concentrates hold the exact same penalties as hash, with possession, sale, and/or delivery resulting in five years of jail time and a $5,000 fine.
Florida Marijuana Laws Regarding Drug Paraphernalia
“Marijuana paraphernalia” is any product used as an accessory for using marijuana, such as pipes and bongs. The possession of marijuana paraphernalia is a misdemeanor, with Florida marijuana law punishing those in possession of paraphernalia with up to one year of jail time and a $1,000 fine.
Local Decriminalization of Marijuana
Florida has several local jurisdictions that have passed local resolutions or laws that decriminalize the possession of marijuana or other cannabis products. For example, in Miami-Dade County, possessing up to 20 grams of marijuana only comes with a $100 fine.
Compare that penalty to the much more restrictive Florida marijuana law for the entire state, where the penalty for possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor that results in a $1,000 fine and up to a year of jail time. Check with your local Florida government for more details regarding the local decriminalization of marijuana.
Under Florida’s Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions are allowed medical use of marijuana provided they have a doctor’s recommendation and an identification card. Home cultivation for medical purposes is not permitted under the law. The law does allow qualifying patients to have a caregiver who is at least 21 years old to assist in the collection and administering of medical cannabis.
Originally, Florida marijuana laws permitted only medical cannabis oils, sprays, tinctures, edibles, and vaping materials. While smoking marijuana was originally not permitted under the law, in 2018 Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled that the constitutional amendment approved by Florida voters in 2016 broadly legalized medical marijuana and gave eligible patients the right to smoke marijuana in private. In March 2019, the Florida Legislature approved SB 182, a bill that overturns the ban on smokable forms of medical marijuana for adults and patients under 18 who are either diagnosed with a terminal illness or who have obtained a second recommendation from a pediatrician.
SB 182 also allows patients to order a 210-day supply of medical marijuana at a time, up from the original 70-day supply limit approved in the initial legislation.
Who Can Be Treated with Medical Marijuana Under Florida Marijuana Laws?
Florida’s medical marijuana program allows medical marijuana to be provided as treatment for patients with the following “debilitating medical conditions”:
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
“Other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated”
Additionally, in June 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law HB 7107 to allow a cannabis-derived drug for children with epilepsy. The bill changes that specific drug’s classification in state law from a Schedule I substance to Schedule V.
Drugged Driving Laws in Florida
Drivers in Florida are forbidden from using their car or some other type of motor vehicle if there is any detectable level of THC and/or marijuana in their system. If you have recently consumed marijuana, even if it is legally obtained medical marijuana, do not operate a motor vehicle under any circumstances.
Consumption of CBD from Hemp Oil in Florida
While hemp-derived CBD products are legal under federal law in the United States, individual state laws are dynamic and fluid. Individual states may enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.
Cultivation of Cannabis in Florida
Even for first-time offenders, the cultivation of cannabis for any purpose is considered a felony in Florida. If found cultivating fewer than 25 plants, it is considered a third-degree felony punishable by incarceration up to five years and fines up to $5,000. If an individual is the owner of the property where more than 25 plants are being illegally cultivated, the offense is charged as a second-degree felony, punishable by 15 years in prison.
Florida’s Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in March 2016, permits certain dispensing organizations to grow and distribute cannabis.
Stay up to date on the latest state legislation, referendums, and public opinion polls. Our Marijuana Legalization Map allows you to browse the current status of medical and recreational marijuana laws in other U.S. states and territories.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice. Although we endeavor to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Therefore, any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk.
[Canniseur: If New Zealand legalizes, this will be a big deal. A very big deal indeed. And this will be decided by the people. The Parliament in En Zed (that’s what Kiwi’s call New Zealand) has promised to enact legal adult use if the population approves the referendum in September!]
If the measure passes, legal weed sales could bring the country as much as $490 million annually, according to a new report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER). This estimate is based on the 25 percent cannabis tax rate proposed in the new legislation, in combination with the country’s standard sales tax. But because there is little information regarding how much weed Kiwis smoke, NZIER used data from Canada and Colorado to come up with its predictions.
”The key insight from that is that heavy users do actually consume a lot of this product,” explained NZIER principal economist Peter Wilson, RNZ reports. The analysts assumed that New Zealand’s rate of cannabis use would be similar to that of Colorado, and then scaled this data to match the country’s population. Based on this analysis, NZIER predicts that a legal weed market would sell around 1,100 tons of weed a year.
Wilson notes, however, that sales can only reach this level if the new legal market can successfully displace the country’s existing black market. Although Canada and most US adult-use states are still struggling to defeat illicit weed operations, Wilson believes the data shows that a properly-regulated market offering quality products will eventually negate illegal pot.
”It may take some time to achieve that, but if legal cannabis is safe and the price reasonable, findings from countries which have legalised cannabis tell us that people will make the switch,” said Wilson in a statement. “If regulatory costs and taxes are too high an illegal market will likely re-emerge and gain market share.”
Wilson also notes that the government’s adult-use bill contains a unique provision that could eventually decrease their share of tax revenue. The bill, which is partially modeled on Canada’s restrictive adult-use legislation, will require the government to work to reduce the country’s use of cannabis over time. If the government succeeds at this end, then overall weed sales will decline, as will tax revenue.
“Overseas lessons show the detail of the legislation is important to avoid unintended consequences and achieve the Government’s overall objectives of reducing use through time,” Wilson explained.
Although the report is promising, the fate of the legalization bill remains uncertain. The referendum, which is being included in this year’s general election ballot, is non-binding — meaning that majority support does not guarantee its success. Voters will also be choosing new government officials during that same election, and the country’s new Parliament is under no obligation to uphold any promises made by the current administration.
In other words, even if voters are totally in favor of legal weed, the adult-use bill could still fail. If that happens, New Zealand will continue to prohibit cannabis in any form, as it does today. Even medical marijuana remains completely illegal, although recent laws have made it less risky for terminally ill patients to use medicinal pot.