Cannabis is Coming to the South
New and Expanded Medical Marijuana Programs Plus Some Glimmers of Adult-Use Around the South
The Solid South. The term is used to describe the consistent voting trends of Southern States in favor of politicians and policies that reflect the conservative values of the South’s constituents. While individuals from different parts of the US may share contrary viewpoints, it is undeniable the South is a formative political bloc.
This year, numerous state-level initiatives have advanced the legalization of marijuana to expand patient access, expand medicinal product offerings, and progress towards adult use. Below is a summary of several southern states movements with marijuana:
New Medical Marijuana Programs
Georgia – On February 10, 2021, the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission (GMCC) had a press release detailing nearly 70 businesses submitted competitive application proposals to manufacture low THC cannabis oil for medicinal use. In late July the GMCC chose six companies to have licenses to produce and sell medical marijuana oil.
Mississippi – Medical Marijuana is facing an uphill battle as the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Initiative 65 as invalid due to a clause involving signature distribution requirements in the Mississippi Constitution. As Initiative 65 was ruled invalid, lawmakers are negotiating a medical marijuana program.
Expanded Medical Marijuana Programs
Florida – The number of Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTC) will increase by an additional 19 centers this year. And, Florida recently released rules for Pigford/Black Farmers license applications. The state will establish a separate rule to define the period for the 5-day application window.
New Adult-Use Progress
Virginia – On July 1, 2021, Virginia became the first state in the South to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. People over 21 are allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, cultivate up to four plants per household, and on January 1, 2024 retail sales will commence.
Arkansas – A campaign to have a 2022 ballot initiative is gaining momentum with 20,000 out of a required 89,101 signatures collected.
As cannabis continues to destigmatize and gain legal traction, substantial business opportunities, career opportunities, and cannabis-funded state programs will grow. Investors and entrepreneurs are taking note of this trend and continue to prepare and position themselves for this burgeoning industry.
The Solid South is a region where conservative values are the dominant direction of voters, however changing social views are proving cannabis and conservative values are not mutually exclusive. Cannabis is coming to the South.
Contributing writer: Brian Hart