Cannabis Legalization in the US: Impacts on Industry Growth, Access, and Equity
As more states legalize recreational and medical cannabis in the United States, the proportion of adults using marijuana has increased. In 2019, an estimated 18 percent of U.S. adults reported using marijuana. Now, two more states have legalized recreational cannabis, creating new opportunities for individuals with previous drug convictions to gain access to the cannabis industry.
Mendon Venture Partners is a venture capital investment firm that focuses on the intersection of innovative technology and traditional banks. They recently led an investment in Green Check, a company that serves incumbent regional and community banks. Co-founder and partner Daniel Goldfarb praised the company’s potential and growth opportunities.
Illinois House Democrats recently announced the formation of a cannabis working group that will help the cannabis industry expand in a way that is both business-friendly and satisfies the equity goals of the 2019 legalization law. The same law also made individuals previously charged with minor cannabis offenses eligible to have their records expunged. As of the end of 2020, 492,129 cannabis-related convictions had been expunged and 9,219 low-level cannabis convictions had been pardoned.
The state of Illinois recorded $1.5 billion in recreational cannabis sales in Fiscal Year 2022, generating $445 million in tax revenue. Of this, 25 percent was allocated to economically distressed communities or those impacted by the war on drugs. Evans and Ford have introduced bills in the House to create a cannabis oversight commission.
The bill includes punishments for growers who leave cannabis in an area where they should reasonably expect a person under 21 years old may gain access to it. Individuals aged 21 and above are now able to purchase a maximum of three ounces of marijuana per transaction. If plants are cultivated in view of the public, those responsible may be fined up to $250 and be required to give up the plants. On the third reoccurrence of an offense, the crime can be elevated to a misdemeanor.
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