U.S. Territory Could Make History in Legal Marijuana Industry

hawaii-marijuanaIt isn’t just U.S. states that are ready to jump on board – if they haven’t already – with legalizing marijuana. Legislators in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a U.S. territory, recently approved a bill to legalize marijuana.

By a margin of 18-1, with just one abstention, the CNMI House of Representatives passed the legislation. This piece of legislation seeks to end cannabis prohibition for adults over 21 and creates a system of taxed and regulated sales. It would also welcome medical marijuana and industrial hemp.

This is not the first time that the territory pushed for legalization. In May, the Senate approved a similar marijuana legalization bill. The proposal initially cleared a committee in the House, but its advancement was later halted in response to procedural concerns. It was said that revenue-generating legislation must originate in the House.

As a result, House lawmakers made a few changes to the Senate bill and filed a new proposal of their own. This piece of legislation then won approval by the full chamber.

“The people of the CNMI recognize that the prohibition of marijuana has been terribly misguided and harmful, and our leaders are in touch with the public’s sentiment on this issue,” Lawrence Duponcheel of Sensible CNMI said in a statement.

“Today, members of the CNMI House of Representatives showed their commitment to honoring the will of the people.”

If this bill is successfully enacted, CNMI will become the first U.S. jurisdiction to go directly from outlawing marijuana across the board to allowing recreational use. This is very unique, considering that the territory has no existing medical cannabis program; this is something that has been a precursor to broader legalization in a growing number of states.

It will also be an important milestone because it would make CNMI the first to legalize a system of regulated cannabis production and sales through an act of lawmakers, rather than a ballot measure. (Vermont passed a law earlier this year to legalize marijuana possession and home cultivation, however, the policy does not allow for any form of cannabis commerce.)

Justin Strekal, political director for NORML, commented on marijuana reform’s growing popularity with voters in an interview, saying that “The lawmakers and people of CNMI are on track to make history, and more U.S. policymakers would be wise to take notice before the upcoming midterm elections.”

The next step? The CNMI Senate is now expected to take on the House-passed marijuana legalization bill. These changes have the potential to open up enormous opportunity. Are you hoping to expand your operation or launch your business venture? Consider working with the team at Marijuana Merchant Account and jump in on the expansion of the marijuana industry.


California’s Hopes for Legal Marijuana Industry are Disappointed

Legal Marijuana IndustryYears before U.S. states began legalizing recreational marijuana, many people were arguing that the government should legalize marijuana and then tax and regulate it. The government would then be able to bring in heaps of cash. Their argument was that this would also be beneficial to the legal marijuana industry. It would suffocate the illicit market, and people would buy the legal product because the product sells itself.

For California, things have not quite turned out this way. There are many people still buying cannabis on the illicit market, due to steep markups and high taxes on legal shops. Local restrictions have also complicated things, according to survey data recently released from marijuana delivery service Eaze.

“Unlicensed retailers do not have to comply with worker protection laws, test products for pesticides and processing chemicals, or remit taxes,” said a report from the company outlining the findings. “That results in a large pricing benefit.”

The biggest takeaway from the survey was the difficulties of selling legal marijuana in the state, despite California representing the world’s biggest recreational marijuana market. According to Eaze’s results, one in five Californians has bought marijuana from the illicit market (encompasses anything from street sales to shops that don’t have their paperwork together) in the past three months.

Further, 84 percent of those customers are “highly likely” to go back to buying from a seller without a license. Why? People go back to buying from a seller without a license due to “the illicit market having cheaper products and no tax”, explains Eaze. In addition, 17 percent chose an unlicensed source “due to local laws that restricted access to legal cannabis”.

Will Cutting Taxes Provide Relief for Legal Marijuana Industry?

The data also suggests that a 5 percent cut in the overall tax rate in California could draw up to 23 percent of customers buying marijuana from unlicensed sellers into the legal market. Even more encouraging, 84 percent of Californians say they are actually “very satisfied” with the legal market. As far as consumers’ complaints with the legal marijuana business overall, the survey shows that:

    • 47 percent are dissatisfied with excessively high taxes (the most frequent issue)
    • 36 percent cited a lack of electronic payment options
    • And 32 percent listed “overpriced” products

Solution for the Legal Marijuana Industry

To help the legal marijuana industry address the second most cited issue, alternative lenders have been helping these business owners offer a wider range of payment options. Because marijuana is still very much illegal at the federal level, banks fear prosecution if they offer their services to the industry. High-risk processors like Marijuana Merchant Account have stepped in to offer electronic payment options.

As the industry continues to sort itself out – federal government, taxes, regulations – businesses can at least address one of the biggest issues. Offering safe, electronic payment processing ensures your legal marijuana business can offer a seamless and convenient customer experience.


Legal Marijuana Industry Sheds Light on Its Long Illegality

Medical Marijuana Payment ProcessingMillions are locked up every year for drugs in the United States, and a big percentage of those are for marijuana possession, usage, or manufacturing. The rush of states to legalize pot have made many wonder what happens to those who were locked up before its legality. The green brings pleasure to many and cash to some, and while the Feds still outlaw it, the rapid legalization of states may soon turn the tide on what once was a promising war on drugs.

Legal or not, there will always be pot smokers. The states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use (such as Colorado), and the states that have turned possession into a simple ticket (New York) are setting the stage for the rest of the United States to bring leniency to the users to the drug. What separates marijuana from drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine, and heroin, is that marijuana is grown and dried, with the majority of the time no additives. No processing other than sunlight, and no kitchen chemicals. While the new legality in many places should affect the prison sentences of pot dealers, traffickers, and users, it more than likely will not. In the early 2000s, Congress passed laws to bring leniency to crack cocaine prison terms. This change did nothing to tens of thousands who were already incarcerated for the crime, and the same will probably happen with marijuana.

However, these new legalization’s make it a great time for a merchant to hop onto the medical marijuana bandwagon. Twenty-three states, plus Washington DC, have legalized medical marijuana, and others, such as Colorado and Georgia has legalized medicinal cannabis oils for certain chronic and terminal conditions. This is a rewarding industry, and it can be lucrative, as well. While rewarding and lucrative, it can be a pain in the neck to file a reputable medical marijuana payment processing account. Luckily, it can be done if you do your research. One of the top-rated over the last 10 years is MMA. Ten years is a long time in any business, and the knowledge of MMA’s staff can help you get the right foot in the door with the local governments to ensure your medical marijuana business is not only following the laws, but also following payment processing mandates, as well.

Contact MMA today!