Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana. Ohio legalized adult-use marijuana. Could Virginia’s elections mean a retail market? What’s happening with the Florida ballot initiative? And finally, edibles play a role in some election trash talking.
The big news this week comes from the Buckeye State. Ohio became the 24th state to legalize cannabis for adult-use. The off-year election featured major ballot questions, but no big candidate races. The measure passed by a margin of 57-43 in favor, and the outcome means that over half of the U.S. population now lives in a jurisdiction where adult-use is legal. But (and didn’t you know there was going to be a “but”?) the legislature will have the final word on the matter. They could revise the measure slightly or substantially or repeal it altogether. Governor Mike DeWine (R) was a public opponent of the initiative during the election season. With such a significant margin of victory, total repeal seems unlikely, but a lengthy legislative process that opens the door to illegal operations could well be in the making.
Ohio wasn’t the only state with an off-year election. Virginia’s entire legislature was on the ballot this year. When adult-use cannabis was legalized several years ago, the House of Delegates, Senate and Governor’s office were all in Democrats’ hands. Before a retail market could be established, Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, was elected Governor and the Republicans took control of the House. Now, the Democrats have retained control of the Senate and regained control of the House. What does this mean for cannabis? Probably not much. Governor Youngkin has been a vocal opponent of setting up a retail market, and it seems unlikely that he will change his position.
Governor Youngkin has stated that he is not interested in any further moves towards legalization of adult recreational use marijuana. So I wouldn’t expect that during his administration.Joseph Guthrie, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
So what’s happening in the Sunshine State? An adult-use ballot initiative may appear on the 2024 ballot. The initiative’s fate currently rests in the hands of the state’s Supreme Court. The Court heard oral arguments this week on whether to allow the measure to move forward, with opponents maintaining that the language of the initiative does not explain to voters that cannabis would still be illegal under federal law. The Court has until April 1 to issue a decision. Either a decision in favor of the measure or no decision at all will put the matter on the ballot. Keep in mind, however, that Florida law requires a 60% majority for the initiative to pass, and only Arizona has passed adult-use with that kind of number. In other words, these chickens are nowhere near hatched, so no need for counting at present.
Speaking of Florida and marijuana, the Trump campaign suggested last week that Governor DeSantis might wish to consider “visiting a smoke shop and buy[ing] some edibles to take the stress away” while campaigning in Nevada. No word on whether the Governor followed that advice.
Be well and we’ll see you next week!