The end of Prohibition is cited as one factor that helped the United States out of the Great Depression nearly a century ago. Could cannabis play a similar role in these trying economic times?

While the federal government has yet to act on removing the “controlled substance” status of marijuana, which would seem like a no-brainer for much-needed economic growth, some states have been busy addressing the status of cannabis even during the pandemic. A recent post by addresses the highlights (note that while all this legislation has been introduced, it has not necessarily been passed).

Louisiana (medical use only), perhaps noting the 30 percent increase in cannabis sales nationwide between 2018 and 2019, called for the establishment of a task force to address future workforce demands for the industry.

Minnesota (medical) introduced a bill allowing mobile distribution to patients enrolled in the state’s registry, including direct delivery and mobile distribution units in predetermined locations. Mobile units must have two employees, one a pharmacist.

Pennsylvania’s (medical) new bill earmarks tax revenues from cannabis for student loan forgiveness and mixed-income housing, and replaces the word “marijuana” with “cannabis” in previous legislation.

Massachusetts (medical and recreational) creates a Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund to make no-interest loans available to cannabis entrepreneurs in communities that were impacted disproportionately by “previous marijuana prohibition and enforcement.”

North Carolina (not legal for medical or recreational use) intends to protect the seriously ill with a medical need for cannabis from arrest, prosecution and penalties. This applies to caregivers and physicians as well, though all must have identification cards issued by the state.

And in Georgia (not legal for medical or recreational use), new legislation aims to remove misdemeanor penalties for possession of one ounce or less. In a possible precursor to legalization, the same bill sets permit and licensing regulations for cultivators, processors, retailers and even home growers.

It’s nice to see widespread forward progress for the industry, especially in a time when so much attention is taken by the pandemic and its economic fallout. Now if the federal government would just do its part …

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