This year, lawmakers across the nation are introducing legislation for recreational and medical marijuana. This onslaught of bills has emboldened marijuana advocacy groups, and have potential investors hoping for an expansion of the pot market. Thus far, 12 states have passed legalization bills over the past 4 years. As American tolerance for medical and recreational use of marijuana increases, so do efforts to push through laws to keep recreational users from clogging the criminal justice system, and to tax the drug to bolster state economies.
Many marijuana advocates believe that 2015 will be a big year for cannabis. They feel that some opponents of marijuana reform have conceded that they are fighting a losing battle, and that concession is a huge step forward. Legislators have already introduced bills to legalize and tax recreational marijuana in 8 states. Another 10 states are expected to consider similar bills this year. In addition, another 16 medical marijuana bills are expected to be introduced in various state legislators this year.
All in all, that’s three dozen legislation measures that marijuana advocates are hoping will pass in 2015. While all of these measures won’t pass, there are a few states that advocates believe do have a better chance than others of getting through.
Supporters believe that if the next bill passes as written, it will allow for the existing 3 MMJ facilities to expand to recreational use before new entrants are allowed to apply for business licenses.
MMJ advocates are hopeful in Pennsylvania, as the new Governor has come out in support of passing a MMJ program, as has House leader Republican Rep. Dave Reed.
A bill was introduced in the state this month that would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, plus 9 plants for personal use. Non-residents however, can only possess a quarter of an ounce. The measure would also allow at least 4 retailers to operate in the state, but a maximum is not stated.
In 2014, Amendment 2 was narrowly defeated which would have expanded the MMJ program in Florida. MMJ proponents are eager to see how the newest bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state performs, since a Republican state senator introduced it.
Although new federal guidelines have made it easier for recreational and medical marijuana merchants to operate without penalty, traditional payment processors refuse to work with legitimate marijuana businesses. Without access to a recreational or medical marijuana payment processing, merchants cannot process credit or debit cards.
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