Several states are expected to introduce new cannabis legislation in the upcoming year. Additionally, a few states that passed recreational cannabis in 2022 are set to launch their adult-use markets in the coming months.
But that’s not all that’s on the horizon for 2023…
The SAFE Banking Act has been brewing in congress since February 2019. For context, the federal prohibition of cannabis forces dispensaries to act as cash businesses since they are generally forbidden from participating in the national banking system.
As you can imagine, this is a major security risk. Not only do dispensaries house valuable products, but they handle a lot of cash on-site.
The SAFE Banking Act would prohibit federal institutions from taking action against banks that service legitimate cannabis businesses. However, the bill itself does not come without its limitations.
Earlier this year, the Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition (CRCC) hosted a webinar with The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. During the webinar, the CRCC detailed how the bill is presented as a way to “promote equity” within the industry but does not mention equity once within its text.
“The claim that I’ve been most frustrated with is SAFE being passed for equity as if that is the goal of this initiative,” said the CRCC Vice Chair Cat Packer. “The reality is the SAFE banking act has passed seven times thus far, but it doesn’t mention the word equity not once. There’s been a disconnect between the campaigns supporting SAFE and the impact it will actually have.”
Members of the CRCC also published a paper over the summer further elaborating on the bill’s shortcomings and proposing amendments to improve the SAFE Banking Act.
In the last few weeks, there have been rumblings of a “SAFE Plus,” which is said to be “more likely to pass in the Senate” than the original SAFE Banking Act.
Experts had theorized that either SAFE Plus or the original SAFE Banking Act would re-emerge in the Senate last week in hopes of passing it along with the National Defense Authorization Act.
However, the text of the NDAA was released, and there was no sign of either bill within the language. Nevertheless, SAFE Plus or the original SAFE Banking Act will likely be re-introduced during the 2023 legislative session.
Expanding Access to Cannabis Research
A few weeks ago, the senate passed a bill allowing certain institutions, such as medical schools, to grow their own cannabis for research purposes.
Although cannabis remains a Schedule I substance in the United States, this bill has the potential to significantly expand access to cannabis for research opportunities at institutions across the country.
Once it’s signed into law by President Joe Biden, we expect to see a significant increase in studies on cannabis over the next few years.
At Least Three States to Launch Their Adult-Use Markets in 2023
The following states legalized adult-use cannabis this year and are poised to officially open their adult-use programs in 2023:
- Maryland: During the midterm election, Maryland passed HB837, legalizing adult-use cannabis. The state’s recreational program is expected to launch in July 2023.
- Missouri: With the recent passage of Amendment 3, those 21 years and older will be able to purchase cannabis at dispensaries as early as February 2023.
- New York: Although Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) said the state was on track to open adult-use dispensaries this year in October, we’re now less than three weeks away from 2023… Thus, the NY adult-use program will likely kick off sometime early next year, as opposed to this year.
States to Keep an Eye On
Although these states have not officially passed adult-use cannabis reform yet, they might in 2023:
- Pennsylvania: Medical cannabis was legalized in PA in 2016. Since then, experts have kept a close eye on the state, waiting for it to pass recreational use. Although previous attempts to legalize recreational cannabis in PA have stalled, pressures have been amping up as the state’s close neighbors beat it to establishing their own recreational markets.
- Ohio: There have been several major pushes to legalize recreational cannabis in Ohio over the last year or two. 2023 might just be Ohio’s year for a green wave.
- Minnesota: Although Minnesota has garnered a reputation for having some pretty strict cannabis laws, experts theorize adult-use cannabis may be on the ballot for the state next year.
Of course, there’s always the chance of a few “wild cards” having recreational cannabis on the ballot next year, such as some “deep-red” states in the south.
Key Takeaways: Prepare for Another Green Wave in 2023
While there was much to celebrate for the cannabis industry this year, it’s time to keep the momentum going for 2023. Over the next few months, experts anticipate another major push for banking reform, increasing cannabis research, and the launch of at least three more recreational cannabis programs.
Furthermore, recreational cannabis may be on the ballot for a few new states this upcoming year, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Minnesota.
- SAFE Banking Act | U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter. (2022, September 23). Ed Perlmutter. https://perlmutter.house.gov/safe-banking-act/
- The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. (2022, August 22). Not a SAFE Bet: Equitable Access to Cannabis Banking [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnLatBPdtG0
- Packer, C., Title, S., Crockett, R. A., & Dawson, D. (2022, August 11). Not a SAFE Bet: Equitable Access to Cannabis Banking, An Analysis of the SAFE Banking Act. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4188072
- Block, J. (2022, October 3). SAFE Plus cannabis legislation could be gaining ground in the Senate. SeekingAlpha. https://seekingalpha.com/news/3888002-safe-plus-cannabis-marijuana-legislation-could-be-gaining-ground-in-the-senate
- Levenson, M. S. (2022, December 8). After a week of hope, the SAFE Banking Act dies again in the Senate. Leafly. https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/safe-banking-act-dies-again-in-senate
- Maupin, W. (2022, December 7). Lawmakers approve expanding access to cannabis for research purposes. Inlander. https://www.inlander.com/spokane/lawmakers-approve-expanding-access-to-cannabis-for-research-purposes/Content?oid=24973286
- Racino, B. (2022, October 6). Gov. Kathy Hochul confirms marijuana dispensaries set to open this year. Syracuse. https://www.syracuse.com/marijuana/2022/10/gov-kathy-hochul-confirms-marijuana-dispensaries-set-to-open-this-year.html