A Look Ahead at 2015 – The Legal Cannabis Industry

2014 will be looked back on as a turning point for the anti-prohibition movement. Our country witnessed the first recreational cannabis market open in Colorado, and then in Washington. For the first time, the Federal government released guidelines setting up a framework for marijuana businesses to gain access to banking and financial services. Couple that with 2 new states (Alaska and Oregon) joining the recreational adult-use market and the pro-cannabis provisions of the 2015 Federal Budget, and 2014 proved to be nothing short of historic. But after such an incredible and progressive year for the anti-prohibition movement, what do we have in store for 2015?  Here are my predictions…

Increased involvement from mainstream investors – Until now, finding capital to launch a cannabis business was limited to friends and family and a high risk private equity firms. As the business climate for legal climate becomes less volatile, mainstream investors and institutions are slowly entering the market.  This will provide the necessary capital as well as the legitimacy of being associated with mainstream financial institutions. More importantly this will increase the already-mounting pressure to provide this industry with access to banking.

Decrease in Federal raids and arrests- After the passage of the now infamous “Cromnibus” spending bill was passed in January, the federal government has effectively defunded enforcement of state medical marijuana programs by the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency.  Between now and the expiration of that provision in September, I expect to see a substantial drop in Federal involvement with state-compliant medical marijuana businesses.

Critical mass of Lawmaker support on a Federal level will be reached:

Supporting legal cannabis is no longer the political liability it’s been in the past. Many politicians on both sides of the aisle have quietly supported marijuana legalization for decades, but were unwilling to get behind the movement in any substantive way. In 2015, I predict we will see more progressive democrats and libertarian-leaning republicans throw their support towards sensible cannabis policy. This is already being demonstrated at the state and local level, and I believe the anti-prohibition movement will find a louder voice within the halls of the United States Congress.

Preemption Marijuana Bills by State Legislatures:

As of now, every state that has moved forward with medical or recreational marijuana laws has done so by taking the vote to the people and letting them decide through a ballot initiative. This has led to sweeping legislation that lawmakers have little to no input in its creation. As a result, an increasing number of state lawmakers are working to create and pass their own cannabis legislation before citizens put the issue on the ballot. I predict that 2015 may be the year a state legislature passes a law to legalize and regulate medical cannabis in their state.

Those are my predictions based on my work in this industry. Regardless of whatever developments come this year, I’ll be right here on the MJ Legal Blog to analyze and discuss.

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