By late 2015, 23 states and the District of Columbia had already legalized medical marijuana. -Mid-year 2016 put legalization efforts over the halfway mark, with five more states joining the fold. Eight states have legalized recreational cannabis use, with the remainder accepting medical use. The many benefits of medical marijuana have been proven and are backed by many studies, including a poll of clinicians undertaken by the New England Journal of Medicine, in which 76 percent of the participating doctors said they believed the medical benefits of medical marijuana. Recreational use is not as widely legalized yet, but it likely will not be long until it is.
Legal and social acceptance develop side by side, and as more states embrace, rather than fight against cannabis use, the faster the remaining states follow suit. In turn, public acceptance is growing, with a 2015 Gallup report indicating that 58 percent of Americans now support legalization. Right now, over 17 million people live in states that have legalized recreational marijuana; current projections for 2017-2018 put the number at 86 million, about 25 percent of the total U.S. population.
In the eight states in which recreational use of cannabis is legal, opportunities to invest in the legal marijuana industry are growing. However, this is not a wide-open situation; one has to consider marijuana cultivation laws, which tend to be fairly restrictive and incredibly detailed. Marijuana cultivation laws also mean risk, because state and federal laws differ, at least in regards to cannabis, with heavier federal penalties even in states that allow it.
Federal marijuana cultivation laws carry hefty penalties: less than 50 marijuana plants can result in up to five years in prison; bigger operations of 1,000 or more plants could potentially result in a life sentence. Just because the state has legalized the possession of some number of plants doesn?t mean that the owner is exempt from federal penalties, although it isn?t understood in any consistent way how such cases will be treated.
In each state that has some level of legality regarding marijuana cultivation, there are differences regarding how many plants may be grown, how much of the harvest may be transported or sold, and who may be a licensed grower. There are several resources online for finding this information and staying up to date for individual medical and recreational use. However, for serious investors who are wondering how to get into the marijuana business legally, it is best to consult with a cannabis investment advisor or consulting firm. They can provide all the necessary information, help with cannabis business license application and other official paperwork, and guide the full project, from the legal and financial sides, to the marijuana facility construction and growing process. Investing in the cannabis industry clearly carries unique financial and legal risks; a marijuana investment advisor is well-versed in marijuana cultivation law and all other aspects of the business.
As looser cannabis laws popularize, the projection is that within a relatively short time, cannabis will be legal nationwide, resulting in a booming market. By 2025, earnings for legal cannabis are expected to rival the film and professional sports industries. And it?s not just marijuana for medical or recreational use, either; the global market for hemp involves over 25,000 products, from textiles to agricultural. Those that invest wisely now, paying careful attention to legality, will likely be glad they did.