Marijuana midterm results 2018

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Simplifya's regulatory analyst, Bill, breaks down the states with marijuana-related initiatives after the 2018 midterm election!

The 2018 midterm results are in and there were some big wins regarding marijuana initiatives. So what were the highlights? We can all agree that Michigan becoming the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana is big news. In addition, Missouri and Utah became the 31st and 32nd states to legalize medical marijuana. Congrats! 

Let’s take a look at each state with more detail.

Michigan: The first Midwest state to legalize recreational marijuana

Ten years after legalizing medical marijuana, Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to legalize marijuana for recreational use. To add to that, proposal 1 received almost 56% of the vote despite massive spending from the opposition. The state will begin accepting applications for marijuana business licenses within a year. 

The Michigan recreational marijuana industry is projected to become an $800 million industry by 2024.

What does Proposal 1 do?

  • Allows individuals 21 and older to purchase, possess, and use marijuana and to grow up to 12 plants for personal use
  • Imposes a 10 ounce limit for marijuana kept at residences and requires amounts over 2.5 ounces to be secured in locked containers
  • Creates a state licensing system for marijuana businesses and allows municipalities to ban or restrict them
  • Imposes a 10% tax on retail sales of marijuana
  • Legalizes the cultivation, processing, distribution, and sale of industrial hemp

Missouri: Show-me some medical marijuana

Voters in the Show-Me State approved just one of the three medical marijuana measures on the ballot- Amendment 2. This amendment requires Missouri to start accepting applications for qualifying patients no later than June 4, 2019 and puts obligations on the state to begin accepting applications for marijuana businesses no later than August 3, 2019.

A mature medical marijuana market in Missouri is projected to generate nearly $480 million per year.

What does Amendment 2 do?

  • Amends the Missouri Constitution to allow for the use of medical marijuana
  • Requires the Department of Health and Senior Services to establish regulations and licensing procedures for medical marijuana facilities including dispensaries, cultivation sites, manufacturing sites, and testing labs
  • Imposes a 4% tax on the retail sale of marijuana
  • Allows patients to grow up to six flowering plants in their homes for personal use

Utah: Medical narrowly passes (even with Dabakis’ endorsement)

If you follow us on Linkedin, we posted a video wherein Utah senator, Jim Dabakis, had his first encounter with marijuana. Did this sway some Utah voters to vote yes on Proposition 2? I guess we’ll never know. But Proposition 2 did pass. And there are some really exciting provisions in there, like creating a state licensing system, allowing vaping and edibles, and allowing certain patients to grow plants at home. Unfortunately, lawmakers are likely to override some of these midterm results in a special legislative session. Stay tuned.

What does Proposition 2 do?

  • Allows patients to obtain medical marijuana for certain qualifying conditions
  • Prohibits patients from smoking marijuana but allows vaping and edibles
  • Allows patients to grow up to six cannabis plants for personal use as long as they live more than 100 miles from a licensed dispensary
  • Authorizes the establishment of facilities that grow, process, test, or sell medical cannabis and requires those facilities to be licensed by the state

North Dakota: It’s a no-go

North Dakota will remain a medical-only state.

This was not even close. Voters in North Dakota rejected Measure 3 by a wide margin. Measure 3 would have legalized the recreational use of marijuana in the state for people 21 years old or older and would have created an automatic expungement process for individuals with convictions for marijuana.

Regulators keep on regulating

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Regulators are cracking down, are you ready for your inspection?

The BCC crackdown

Listen, I get it. Telling someone you work with regulatory compliance isn’t going to make you the life of the party. But I promise you compliance can be exciting, especially when the regulators surprise you.


Take this example: Last week, California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) swooped in and seized over $2,000,000 of cannabis and cannabis products from an unlicensed retailer in Los Angeles. The BCC’s enforcement action serves as a warning to other operators in the cannabis industry. That warning is clear: they need to get licensed and follow all appropriate state and local rules.

Moreover, the action is a reminder that any licensed business selling cannabis to an underground retailer could find themselves on the receiving end of a BCC or law enforcement investigation. The investigation can prompt enforcement actions, including the seizure of products or suspension of your license. You stand to lose a significant amount of income. Protect yourself by signing up for a demo of Simplifya. Our goal is to make it easy for cannabis businesses to follow applicable state and local regulations without spending gobs of money on compliance experts.

Licensing in Massachusetts? You must pass inspection first!

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Licensing in Massachusetts is quickly approaching

Licensing in Massachusetts

Licensing in Massachusetts is heating up, as the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) has granted final licenses. Dispensaries, cultivators, manufacturers, and testing labs have received licenses in the past month. A common requirement in the US is that cannabis must be tested before stocking it on shelves. Retailers in Massachusetts were waiting on testing labs just last week to get final licenses. A final license represents your “golden ticket” to start operating your business and making sales. If your MJB has yet to obtain a final license, there is still a hurdle for you to overcome.

Unlike California with its abundance of regulators, in Massachusetts, the CCC is the sole entity in charge of all licensing and regulations for retail cannabis businesses. Before a business can begin operations, it must seek a final license from the CCC. The CCC also requires that applicants must undergo a full inspection of the business to verify compliance. 

A final licensing inspection can be a stressful time for any business. This is especially true for cannabis businesses with the complex web of regulations they must follow. If a business does not pass its final licensing inspection, the CCC will not issue a final license. The pressures of a final licensing inspection can weigh heavily on a business, as they must check every inch of their facility to prepare for the inspection. However, with Simplifya, you can rest a little easier knowing our regulatory analysts have prepared an audit to ensure compliance.

Are you a cannabis business in Massachusetts preparing for your final license? Consider trying a Simplifya demo before your final license inspection by the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC). Simplifya can help you make sure that you are ready for your inspection. With Simplifya, you can audit your facility for compliance before the CCC arrives.

Cannabis ballot measures to watch on November 6th

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As the midterm elections loom, several states across the US have cannabis ballot measures to vote for. Here at Simplifya, we’ll be watching the results closely, ready to cover all things compliance. We cover any state that gives the green light to cannabis.

In light of the upcoming election, we thought we’d give a quick rundown of the biggest cannabis ballot measures.

Cannabis ballot measures


Medical cannabis is already legal but Michiganders will be deciding whether they want to be the 10th state to legalize recreational cannabis. With 56% of likely voters supporting the proposal and 41% against, the ballot measure seems likely to pass.

The proposal, dubbed Prop 1 (and supported by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol), would legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over. The limit of possession in public is 2.5 while you can have up to 10 ounces at home. In regard to plants, there’s a limit of 12 plants per household.

If legalized, a 10% tax would be imposed on cannabis sales. These tax dollars will go towards funding implementation, clinical trials, schools, roads, and local governments. Experts estimate Michigan could generate an additional $100-200 million per year if the measure passes.

North Dakota

Conservative North Dakota is the only other state that is voting on a recreational cannabis ballot measure this year. Measure 3 would legalize recreational use for people aged 21 years or older. What’s unique is measure 3 will also implement an automatic expungement process for those with prior cannabis convictions. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t much reliable polling to gauge North Dakotans’ sentiments about the ballot measure. One recent poll found that 51% of respondents supported the measure, while another poll from August found just 38% support.

However, the August poll is hotly contested by advocates who say the poll’s methodology was flawed and that it’s misleading. Advocates claim to see broad support across the state, but we’ll have to wait until election day to find out whether that rings true.


Missourians face a confusing set of ballot measures on expanding medical cannabis use. Three separate cannabis ballot measures will compete for the most votes in the state on November 6 – two constitutional amendments and one statutory change.

Amendment 2, sponsored by New Approach Missouri, is currently polling highest among the cannabis ballot measures, with 69% of likely voters planning to vote in favor and 17% against. Amendment 2 imposes a 4% tax on medical cannabis sales, with taxes set to fund veterans programs. It also lists several common qualifying conditions, such as PTSD, epilepsy, and chronic pain. However, they leave the list of qualifying conditions open-ended and under the best judgment of physicians.

Amendment 3, sponsored by Find the Cures and Springfield trial attorney and physician Dr. Brad Bradshaw, also has broad support with 64% of likely voters in favor and 23% against. Amendment 3 is controversial in the state and creates the highest tax on medical cannabis in the country at 15%. The tax is meant to fund an independent research facility. In doing so, he aims to find cures for currently incurable diseases.

Prop C, the statutory measure sponsored by Missourians for Patient Care, has broad support among Missourians. However, it has the least amount of support among the three ballot measures with 62% of likely voters in favor and 25% against. Prop C imposes a 2% tax set to fund drug treatment, veteran services, and early childhood education.


This November, Utahns will be deciding whether they want to legalize medical cannabis within the state. The Utah Medical Cannabis Act, or Prop 2, will allow qualifying patients to purchase up to 2 ounces of flower or 10 grams of THC or CBD. However, patients would not be allowed to smoke or vaporize marijuana within a two-week period.

The most recent polling from this month shows support at about 51%, with roughly 46% of likely voters opposing the ballot measure. This is a pretty steep drop-off from the roughly 64% of likely voter support in August.

Many attribute this fall in support to opposition by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, support among “very active” LDS members has fallen from 54% in favor and 42% opposed to 28% in favor and 68% opposed since June.

Gov. Gary Herbert has promised to call a special session next month, which would be aimed at taking up compromise legislation meant to please both supporters and opponents of Prop 2. While this plan has mixed support among Utahns, we’ll have to wait until November 6 to see how things turn out.

My favorite weird marijuana regulations

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So you want to know about weird marijuana regulations

As we all know (hopefully), marijuana is illegal under federal law. In spite of that law, 30 states now allow the sale of marijuana in some capacity. Except for a few short memos from the U.S. Attorney General’s office, states have little guidance on how to set up a system for cannabis control. The memos only seem to require preventing marijuana from being redirected out of state or into the hands of minors or illegal-market players (see Cole memo). This lack of guidance enables individual states to tackle regulations creatively.

With 30 different states trying to build a regulated industry after decades of prohibition, the results are varied. For a business, juggling 30 different regulatory environments sounds like a headache. However, to a regulatory analyst (that’s me!), it’s a wonky wonderland. Here are a few of my favorite weird marijuana regulations I’ve found as a side-effect to these state experiments:

California vs. New Mexico: How many license types do we need?


California is well-known for being a state of complex regulations, and their cannabis rules are shaping up to be no exception. Perhaps you would expect to have a separate license for each part of the business that handles marijuana: growers, retailers, product manufacturers, transporters, testing labs, and maybe distributors. In addition, many state outline different licenses for recreational vs. medicinal marijuana. That would put you at about 16 license types in a state with recreational and medical uses permitted—eight for medical only states. But things are not so simple in The Golden State.

California has over 50 license types. They have licenses for manufacturers who use volatile solvents, and a separate one for those who use non-volatile solvents. They separate cultivation licenses depending on whether your grow is outdoor, indoor, or mixed-light; whether the grow is small or medium (but no large yet); or if the grow is “specialty” or “specialty cottage”—28 cultivation licenses in all. They even have a special license for Cannabis Event Organizers (both medical and recreational).

New Mexico

New Mexico, on the other hand, has one commercial license type and one for personal production and use. This license allows the licensee to grow, sell, and distribute medicinal marijuana. So about testing, manufacturing, and transport? In order to do these in New Mexico, you don’t get licensed from the state, you get approved. Different names for the same thing? Possibly. The approval process still requires an application fee and a review process that involves security, odor, and environmental concerns. The only difference seems to be that at the end of the approval process, your business gets added to a list of approved companies, while a license grants you an official piece of paper to display.

We have reached out to New Mexico’s licensing department but are still waiting on their response to clarify the difference *author subtly nudges New Mexico*. Even if you decide to count these approvals as a sort of half-license, it still only brings New Mexico’s count up to four total licenses. We don’t know which state has the best system—too many licenses and regulations can stunt business growth, while too few can create loopholes and, by extension, gray markets. As with most things in life, the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Marijuana, Cannabis, and Marihuana: A bud by any other name… 

Licensing isn’t the only marijuana regulation quirk I’ve encountered. Should we call the plant Marijuana or Cannabis? The two terms seem to divide states and localities.

The word “cannabis” is considered a more “professional” word because it refers to the taxonomical plant classification. Cannabis also has a broader meaning, applying to the whole plant.

The word “marijuana”, on the other hand, comes from Mexican farmers. People disagree on whether the word “marijuana” refers to the whole plant or just the THC-potent flowers. Also, whether it should be differentiated from hemp with a low-THC percentage.

Michigan’s marihuana history

As far as I can tell, the only state that is a one-off from this battle of words is Michigan. 

Michigan’s regulations use the outdated spelling, “marihuana” (apparently British Columbia does this too). This spelling seems to date back to a time when U.S. citizens were unaware that “j”s can make an “h” sound in Spanish.

“Marihuana” appears in two places: the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act, one of the first pieces of federal legislation implementing cannabis-prohibition, and the 1970 Controlled Substances Act which kicked off the War on Drugs.

It makes sense that Michigan would use such a dated spelling; Michigan, at least in Ann Arbor, started fighting prohibition from the start. Since 1974, the city allowed possession of small amounts of marijuana and only imposed a civil infraction. According to Michigan’s government, it incorporated the spelling into its Public Health Code which is the standard spelling under federal law. They argue that it would take explicit action from the Michigan Legislature to update the spelling to something more current, which probably won’t happen any time soon.

We have yet to encounter a regulation that refers to weed, ganja, or mota… but we’ll let you know when we do.

Simplifya’s regulatory analysts take pride in their exhaustive knowledge of cannabis compliance. Their work enables our clients to easily understand the regulations they need to follow. See for yourself by signing up for a demo today!