What’s the Latest on Marijuana Legislation in 2021?

Posted by Mark Mariotti on June 21, 2021

In 2000, Colorado approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Then in 2012, it approved it for recreational use. Today, only 14 states remain in which marijuana remains illegal. However, some of these states have decriminalized it.

The biggest news in marijuana legislation is that New Jersey and New York now have legalized marijuana programs. Those are expected to bring in more than $4 billion in yearly sales within a few years per an MJBizDaily report. Virginia and New Mexico have also legalized adult use this year. Five years after sales begin, both expect to generate $2 billion in annual revenue.

Residents in New Mexico can grow and possess marijuana as early as June 29, 2021. Retail sales won't start until 2022. In Virginia, the law goes into effect on July 1, but sales won't begin until 2024. These are just the highlights. Here's a closer look at what's happening in terms of cannabis legalization.

North Carolina Marijuana Legislation

While North Carolina doesn't have legalized marijuana just yet, there's some movement that could change that. The chair of the Senate rules committee has submitted a bill in North Carolina to legalize marijuana for medical conditions. These include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, AIDS, Crohn's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, and other debilitating conditions.

The measure states nothing about making it legal for recreational use and it will remain illegal to drive while under the influence. But will the bill go anywhere? Who knows? Similar measures have popped up in North Carolina and none has gotten far. With neighboring Virginia voting to legalize it for recreational use this year, could it be the push North Carolina needs?

Additionally, the senator behind the bill is Sen. Bill Rabon. He apparently has a lot of muscle in determining which North Carolina bills move forward and which don't. WRAL says part of what's driving Rabon is that he wants an alternative to opiates for dealing with pain. Although he admits that public sentiment has changed in recent years, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger expresses doubt that the bill will make it through.

New Jersey Marijuana Update

The Garden State has approved marijuana for recreational use. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed three new laws to effectively legalize cannabis for personal use.

"Governor Phil Murphy today signed historic adult-use cannabis reform bills into law, legalizing and regulating cannabis use and possession for adults 21 years and older (A21 – 'The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act') and decriminalizing marijuana and hashish possession (A1897). The Governor also signed S3454, clarifying marijuana and cannabis use and possession penalties for individuals younger than 21 years old," says the press release from the Governor's office.

The governor states the cannabis laws are defensible and equitable. He believes it will create a new industry that sends revenue to the community while promoting public health and safety. This revenue will go toward social justice programs in communities, repairing the damage done by drug-related wars, or the state's cannabis regulatory agency and infrastructure. It's important to note that regulated cannabis refers to any form of cannabis legally purchased at a licensed store.

If a citizen buys marijuana or hashish from elsewhere, it's no longer a crime to use or possess up to six ounces and 17 grams, respectively. Anyone under 21 caught in public with the drug will have different consequences. The first two are written warnings with the second including information about community support and services. For those under 18, the parents will receive a notification.

It won't be possible to buy marijuana for recreational use for six months to two years because of the work it takes for a recreational store to open. The earliest recreational store can open is Labor Day weekend.

Citizens are still not allowed to grow their own cannabis. Anyone caught will face criminal charges. Residents in apartment buildings may or may not be able to smoke weed as it depends on management. The building owner or management sets the rules. One thing apartment building management can't do is ban the possession of cannabis or its edibles. The law only covers vaporization and combustion of cannabis in apartment buildings.

New York Marijuana Update

New York Gov. Cuomo has signed legislation that legalized marijuana for adults while expunging the criminal records of people previously convicted of crimes that are legal under the new law. This makes New York the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults.

The legalization of marijuana in New York could potentially create up to 60,000 jobs while producing $350 million in yearly tax revenue for the state according to an ABC News report. Like New Jersey, some of the revenue will go to affected communities.

"A total sales tax rate of 14% includes 9% allocated for the state, 3% for the municipality where the sale is made and 1% for the county," says ABC News. "From that 9%, 40% has been earmarked for communities disproportionately affected by prior drug laws, 40% for schools and 20% for drug treatment and education."

Unlike New Jersey, New Yorkers will be allowed to grow up to three mature pot plants at home. This maxes at six per household. Residents can legally possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana.

Marijuana Legislation in Other States

Nebraska, Kansas, Connecticut, and South Carolina are unlikely to see any movement. Bills in Pennsylvania and Minnesota remain active, but they are not likely to pass. Maybe next year.

A Texas House Bill expands the eligibility for Texas Compassionate Use Program to include people with cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite this, the Senate removed a provision that would have allowed any Texan with chronic pain to legally access medical marijuana.

According to the Texas Tribune, only 6,000 Texas residents are enrolled in the Compassionate Use Program. This is a small amount considering almost 2 million people are eligible.

Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota have sent a message they want cannabis to be legal for adult use. Mississippi and South Dakota voters have passed medical marijuana initiatives. According to Business Insider, Gov. Kay Ivey has signed a bill to legalize medical marijuana in Alabama.

What's notable is a Quinnipiac University poll says that more than two-thirds of Americans support recreational legalization.

What You Need to Know About Cannabis Security

Not only does it take time for a new business to obtain approvals for licenses, but they also have many regulatory hoops to jump through. One of those is cannabis security requirements, which are more stringent than in most industries. It does not matter that medical and recreational marijuana is legal. Legislators don't do this to make it harder for the industry. They create and enforce strict regulations because marijuana is a cash-heavy business.

That's because cannabis retailers keep a lot of cash on the property. With most banks having to follow federal regulations, they cannot allow cannabis businesses to become customers. Cannabis is still illegal on the federal level and financial institutions are beholden to those laws. These banking challenges affect all marijuana businesses including growers, processors, and dispensaries.

Security-related regulations are there to help these businesses protect their assets. Despite being legal, drug dealers and drug users may do anything to get their hands on products to resell them in states where marijuana remains illegal. With marijuana being illegal in fewer states, it's still enough to compel drug deals to sell across state lines because it's highly profitable.

States in the U.S. and Canadian provinces have exhaustive requirements surrounding security and video surveillance. The rules vary by state and province. Even the cities in California contain different security requirements.

Don't rest on your laurels. Cannabis-related laws change frequently. That's the result of lawmakers not knowing the law's consequences until it's implemented. Moreover, changes also affect law enforcement as they struggle to keep up with the complex laws related to the cannabis industry.

Remember law enforcement needs to know many other laws besides those related to drugs. Because of this, the police may not prioritize cannabis businesses when doing a drive-by. Additionally, law enforcement places greater emphasis on citizen safety rather than watching over businesses. The police are more likely to pull over people driving under the influence than to monitor a business. In short, marijuana businesses must take care of themselves and do what's necessary to protect their assets.

Video Surveillance for Marijuana Businesses

Again, security and video surveillance requirements vary by geography. They all have different laws regarding camera placement, resolution, camera frame rate, the length of time to retain video footage, and more.

What the law requires may or may not be strong enough. Whatever the case, video surveillance with analytics and human operators can monitor a business 24/7. It's the most effective and proactive security that can do more than deter crime and catch criminals. The technology with the human factor greatly increases the chances of stopping crime.

Besides, it's not always the external threats that can be a problem. The Cannabis Business Times states that one of the biggest threats to the business is its own employees. They know how the security system works, where everything is located, and any weaknesses. Ensure you make background checks as part of the process whenever hiring a new employee or working with a new vendor regardless of your government requiring it.

It's also crucial to work with a security provider with experience in the cannabis industry and keeps up with the ever-changing regulations. When a company fails compliance, it's often due to security with it being two of the top five causes of non-compliance. When you don't work with a security company with experience in the marijuana industry, it could cost you more than the price of fixing it and paying fines.

To find a qualified security provider with experience in the marijuana industry, ask for client referrals and cannabis case studies. You may want to pick up this cannabis security guide that shows you how the right security system can help you maximize security, save on expenses, and achieve regulatory compliance. For more information, contact us.

Posted in: Crime Prevention, Video Security Systems, Security Guards & Savings, Video Monitoring