The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) recently hosted a two-day session with marijuana stakeholders, regulators, advocates, and legalization opponents to share thoughts on the country’s cannabis legalization landscape. It was NASEM’s second iteration of the Public Health Consequences of Changes in the Cannabis Policy Landscape’ series, following the first conference in September.
The first conference featured representatives from federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The event created an opportunity for officials from these organizations to share their respective agencies’ perspectives on critical marijuana-related research.
Last week’s conference attracted many participants who had been deeply involved with cannabis regulation at various government levels, including marijuana regulators from California, Maryland, Hawaii, Oklahoma and Missouri. The regulators discussed their experiences with cannabis regulation and the successes and failures they experienced while trying to regulate the swiftly evolving state-legal cannabis industry.
Nicole Elliot, director of California’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC), noted that California’s cannabis market had become quite robust with “a lot of complexities” since it legalized recreational cannabis six years ago. She said the California market has begun to experience a little stability and consolidation but added that competition in the market is becoming increasingly fierce.
Furthermore, Elliot said the illicit cannabis market has been a persistent thorn in the side of the state legal market and posited that this may be due to the fact that California has a history of producing more cannabis than most states in the country. She also noted that patchwork local rules have created plenty of regulatory loopholes that allow black-market sellers to continue their operations.
Amy Moore, Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) director of cannabis regulation, said that while her state is still new to the cannabis industry, its cannabis segment is “pretty active” and recently hit the $1 billion sales milestone. According to Moore, the state’s medical and recreational cannabis rules both have a major focus on public health.
Conversely, Hawaii Office of Medical Cannabis Control and Regulation supervisor Michele Nakata concedes that her state was slow to adopt a medical-cannabis dispensary system, thanks to much more restrictive cannabis policies compared to other states in the country. While this undoubtedly limited the industry’s growth, it made cannabis regulators’ jobs “a lot easier,” even when resources were limited. She said Hawaii cannabis regulators are now preparing for the possibility of recreational-cannabis legalization.
These interactions between the different groups of regulators, opponents and proponents as well as other cannabis industry stakeholders could be helpful in shaping the future plans of many companies such as Innovative Industrial Properties Inc. (NYSE: IIPR), since the insights shared project what could be possible in the coming years.
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