In 2012, voters in Washington and Colorado legalized the sale and recreational use of cannabis/marijuana, becoming the first states to do so. Nineteen other states would legalize it during the next decade. Some cultivars of the cannabis plant – often known as marijuana or strains – contain active ingredients such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids which, when consumed, cause a range of effects.
The State of Cannabis Today
Today, most citizens and lawmakers support marijuana legalization, and many opponents are also shifting their positions on the matter. In addition, state legislatures are debating whether and how to legalize cannabis, and Congress has introduced various marijuana-related proposals, including ones that will ultimately decriminalize cannabis at the federal level.
The House passed a marijuana decriminalization measure in early April last year, and numerous senators presented the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. On October 7, 2022, President Joe Biden announced that he would grant pardons to all convicted of simple marijuana possession and urged governors to do the same.
This Act marked a significant turning point in the movement to reduce penalties for marijuana use. The declaration will affect approximately 6,500 Americans, but a senior White House official explained that currently, no one is incarcerated for essential marijuana possession. Cannabis advocates continue to view cannabis and cannabis products as revenue generators for states. Cannabis has also become an initiative for social justice.
The disparate impact of marijuana restrictions on minority populations has contributed to mass imprisonment. States that have legalized marijuana have attempted to address the problems of marijuana prohibition retrospectively.
Recreational or Adult-Use marijuana has been approved in the following states
· New Jersey
· New York
· New Mexico
· Rhode Island
· Washington, D.C.
Cannabis Consumption Lounges
Cannabis prohibition is not yet gone, but it is safe to assume it is on its way out. The rise of cannabis consumption in lounges, bars, and social-use settings is the loudest and happiest signal of the death of prohibition. With historic states like California and cities like Las Vegas having already legalized marijuana lounges, the day is not far off when people can consume cannabis and cannabis-infused cuisine at these establishments just as they would alcohol.
With 2023 shaping up to be “the Year of Cannabis,” astute restaurant and bar owners must embrace the business by studying what is legitimate (and what is not) and, most importantly, where an enterprise can set up shop for anything cannabis-related.
New cannabis marketplaces are fast emerging. In addition, four states, including Virginia, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, passed laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use two years ago. As a result, market revenues should continue increasing this year despite market/industry hiccups in other states.
New entrepreneurs should be ready for delays in launching, as cannabis is a heavily regulated sector. As states continue to legalize recreational marijuana, it is essential to keep in mind that landlords, real estate agents, city zoning boards, and state regulators are learning how to operate cannabis. Each step takes significantly longer than in other businesses and carries with it some risks as you await regulatory approval before you can begin earning any profit from your new cannabis venture.
Any event, including “cannabis gastronomy,” must be held privately. More venues are starting to appear, but the number is still tiny. The same holds for lounges and cannabis social clubs.
Cannabis consumption lounges are facilities that permit public cannabis usage on-site. Consider it a bar for weed. In most areas, they are prohibited from selling cannabis goods, while the new law in Nevada will permit the sale of single-use items, challenging this paradigm. The primary service they provide is a safe and legal environment for consumption. This is especially relevant in Las Vegas, where cannabis consumption is prohibited in hotels and public venues, leaving tourists without options to consume their cannabis purchases legally.
With safety in mind, adult-use states have been stringent about prohibiting the combination of cannabis and alcohol in beverages, similar to the crackdown on caffeinated alcoholic beverages.
Edibles are a fast-expanding category in many adult-use states. These new cannabis enterprises appeal to consumers seeking discrete and healthy alternatives to inhalation. We are even beginning to see “cannabis chefs” who offer complete cannabis-infused meal courses. Food is a known delivery mechanism and is a good landing site for cannabis consumers concerned about inhalable products. Therefore, we anticipate that the concept will become widely accepted over time.
Whenever a state goes online, advisory groups and task forces of professionals and interested parties are formed or recruited. Developing expertise and a vast network of industry experts will increase your chances of being invited as a panelist or audience member. This work and exposure to rules, legislation, and subject matter experts (SMEs) is invaluable.
Alternately, we recommend that you frequently visit your state’s regulatory agency’s website, as many offer newsletters and email lists to which you can subscribe for updates on proposed changes to cannabis rules.