Cannabis Industry Pros React to Pot Winning at the Polls
Thoughts and feelings on new weed laws from the legal-weed industry.
The weed world won at the polls Tuesday. A majority of voters in eight states (of nine deciding on weed legislation) said yes to new marijuana laws, making the 2016 election a historic benchmark for the normalization movement. Moving forward, policy-makers at state and local levels will work with the cannabis industry to further legitimize marijuana markets, which are now legal in more than half of the country.
California, which passed Proposition 64––an initiative that will regulate retail recreational cannabis sales like alcohol in the world's 6th largest economy—is expected to generate close-to $4 billion by 2020, on its own.
At the national level, the Drug Enforcement Administration's Schedule I classification of pot remains unchanged, which means that cannabis businesses are still unable to utilize mainstream banking services, and researchers will explore pot’s medicinal potential with limited access. How President Elect Donald J. Trump will address these grievances, and other drug war issues, is pure speculation this early on.
KINDLAND reached out to members of the legal cannabis industry, people who are directly affected by the disruptive voter initiatives, to find out if all electoral change is progress in the right direction.
Dr. Perry Solomon, California
Chief Medical Officer, HelloMD.com
"To me, it's no surprise Prop 64 passed. So in the next two to three years, anyone over 21 [in California] will be able to purchase cannabis at a local 'shop.' Of course there are many details to work out: Taxation, local restrictions for stores, how medical cannabis will fit into all of this, in terms of products that are used more medicinally then recreationally; and how police will evaluate motorists for cannabis in their system.
"From a physician’s viewpoint, with this type of legalization, you can expect more people to be using cannabis that have not done so previously. In Colorado, the number of people who had physician-issued recommendations has not decreased in the several years since implementation. The new consumers for recreational use came from the general population. There is a need for much more education for physicians, as to how cannabis works with the various medical conditions they're presented with by patients, and if [marijuana] interacts with previously prescribed medications."
Kellen O'Keefe, California
SVP of Business Development, MedMen
"Overall, Tuesday was a monumental moment and glorious victory for cannabis! From coast to coast both red and blue states alike decided to take steps in the right direction to end prohibition. I am incredibly proud of our team, MPP, SSDP, and all of the industry pioneers that have fought long and hard to make this dream a reality!"
Darren Roberts, Florida
Co-founder and CEO, High There!
"As a Florida-based Cannabis Social Network, we could not be more thrilled to see our home state, and 7 others, take a step in the right direction with Tuesday's election. We have seen firsthand through our community the positive impact cannabis has on so many people's lives, both recreationally and medicinally, and it is completely gratifying to know that 20% of the country can now consume it legally. Additionally, as a company based in Florida, we are looking forward to seeing and being a part of the positive economic impact a legal cannabis market can bring to a state."
"This is a monumental moment, and will most likely be remembered as the key turning point toward a path of federal legalization."
Jaime Lewis, Colorado / Massachusetts
CEO/Founder, Mountain Medicine; Chief Operating Officer, Mayflower Medicinals ; Chairwoman of the National Cannabis Industry Association Board of Directors
“For business owners and advocates like me, the passing of these marijuana legalization initiatives is a huge validation of our efforts over the past ten years. But this victory is most significant for the activists and advocates who have fought for this moment for decades. There is still much work to do, and it is our responsibility in the industry to honor the movement’s values. We need to continue to work to allow access to all to be prosperous in the cannabis industry, and to do our part to end the racist war on drugs.”
Jane West, Colorado
“Marijuana legalization is the most unifying change we want to see in the world. Over a quarter of Americans now have the freedom to live a legal lifestyle. Now that people can consume safely in more areas, they'll be more open about their use, and that will lead to swifter social change. I'm hoping women will someday be as comfortable posting an image of themselves taking some puffs on a Friday night as they are drinking from champagne glasses, and I am hopeful that this will mobilize the electorate to take more political action to make cannabis accessible to citizens on a national level. This is something we can unite behind, and something both sides of the aisle can agree on that fuels small business and generates needed tax revenues.”
Cy Scott, Washington
Co-founder and CEO, Headset
"The near total acceptance of ballot initiatives around recreational and medical cannabis this election indicates continued momentum for the industry. Some incredible firsts occurred, including the first East Coast state to legalize adult-use and the first Southern state to legalize medical cannabis. This election contributed greatly to further nationwide acceptance. A quarter of all U.S. residents now live in regions where cannabis is legal. The new expanded legal landscape has incredible social and economic benefits as well as unprecedented opportunity for the industry. Exciting times ahead!"
Mike Jenkins PhD, Colorado / Nevada / California
Director of Cultivation, Franklin BioScience
"As the barriers and doors of the long-standing ignorance behind cannabis prohibition are lifted at different governmental levels and across geographic ranges, the simultaneous opening of the doors of knowledge, enlightenment, and scientific understanding are underway. Cannabis holds within its DNA a whole world of unknown science, cures, relief, possibilities, and potentials that are just now being explored."
"Voters in eight of the nine states seeking access to legal cannabis helped drive our movement forward."
Leah Heise, Maryland
CEO, Women Grow
“Women Grow is ecstatic about the sweeping success of cannabis initiatives across the country. We commend each of the advocacy groups and thought leaders who worked so hard to drive legalization. We now have the opportunity to build a fair, responsible industry that serves the health and wellness needs of all Americans. As mothers, entrepreneurs, and leaders, we look forward to standing with the unified cannabis community and showing how one industry can change the world.”
Christian Sederberg, Colorado
Partner and Founding Member of Vicente Sederberg, 'The Marijuana Law Firm'
"The Election was an important night for marijuana policy, with eight out of nine states voting favorably on marijuana reform (only Arizona lost). This includes positive votes in a number of key states, including big, influential states like California, Florida, and Massachusetts. Vicente Sederberg staff were heavily involved in many of the state races, especially in Massachusetts."
Tim Moxey, Washington
"Twenty-eight states now have medical cannabis, and that’s a huge step forward. But the big move was in legalization. It’s not just a West Coast thing now. It shows that finally people understand that the benefits of a regulated and taxed market outweigh the massive costs of prohibition. This isn’t a fringe group. It’s now mainstream. I look forward to keeping this on the path and making it a safe and responsible industry."
Jon Fernandez, Colorado / Nevada / California
Chief Commercial Officer, Franklin Bioscience (Lucky Edibles/Altus Labs)
"The Franklin BioScience team has been holding our breath this election season. We are currently based in Colorado with our two edible brands, Lucky Edibles and Altus Labs. We also own facilities, real estate, and licenses in Nevada and California. This business is not for the faint of heart. You have to invest millions of dollars, and then wait and see if all the planning, R&D, and investment pays off. Thankfully, the voters in eight of the nine states seeking access to legal cannabis helped drive our movement forward. This is a monumental moment, and will most likely be remembered as the key turning point toward a path of federal legalization."