Unsurprisingly, the government has a say, at some level—whether local, state, or federal—in almost every aspect of our lives. But where the American people want more regulation and where the government spends its time are very different. The hot topic issues during this recent legislative session included Telsa, cryptocurrency, and social media, with a heavy focus on Twitter and TikTok. While different agencies regulate each of these topics, each has multiple agencies working together and trying to determine what is best for their constituents.
The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll surveyed voters on various national issues this January, including federal regulations. For each item, they were asked if they felt the federal government should regulate them more or less or keep regulations at the current level. This poll showed that Americans reported that marijuana should be less strictly regulated than it is currently. This poll also showed favoring greater regulations on cryptocurrencies, social media, electric vehicles, and coal.
The survey also explored sentiments about government regulations overall, asking, “Does government regulation generally stifle innovation and hurt opportunities and growth in our economy, or does it generally make our economy more equitable?” Of the respondents, 53% answered that it stifles growth and innovation, and 47% answered that it makes our economy more equitable.
Of course, this isn’t the first survey that shows that most Americans favor medical or recreational programs or making cannabis federally legal. Aside from the differences in state-to-state regulations, some states’ regulations have held up legal cannabis programs for years.
In first place for the quickest program implementation is Montana. Montana issued patient ID cards 41 days after voters approved a medical cannabis initiative in 2004. Oklahoma issued business licenses just two months after that initiative’s June 2018 enactments, and dispensaries were open within three months of the bill passing. West Virginia has been the slowest state to implement, taking more than four years after its 2017 medical cannabis law was passed. Maryland, where it took three years. Delaware, Maryland, and Rhode Island — the first medical marijuana sales did not begin until three-and-a-half to four years after passage.
While New York is credited with building a new agency, The Office of Cannabis Management, and building up the industry in a little over one year since the first official was appointed in October 2021. A New York Times article highlighting the company, Smacked!, discusses the regulatory hold-ups they experienced. New York made a commitment last March to support 150 licensees. Recently, The Office of Cannabis Management awarded 28 licenses, adding to the 28 that were awarded last November. Hundreds of applicants are left waiting to hear if their applications have been accepted and successful. While Smacked! was looking for potential dispensary locations, they looked at about 10,000 locations and narrowed it down to 265 spots. Of those 265 locations, only 70 landlords would sign letters indicating they are willing to lease to dispensaries. Only four leases have been issued as of December 30th of last year.
Laundry List of Regulations
Completing other program requirements can take licensees months, along with the hurdles to obtaining a license and location. In Medical Cannabis programs, most require a licensed pharmacist on staff with state-required training. With cannabis processing, licensees must meet all safety and sanitary required by those processing consumable goods. This requires the location to have a specific layout and building material to meet the requirements. The required laboratory quality assurance testing that keeps products safe for the consumer, comes at a cost to processors. All of these add to the list of hurdles cannabis companies come across.