States Delay Pot Laws Because Nobody’s Ever Legalized Marijuana Before

California Medical Marijuana
California Medical Marijuana

You’ve really got to feel sorry for the state lawmakers and regulators. The people have gone and passed reforms to their states’ marijuana laws. Since nobody has ever passed a marijuana legalization law before, they have no idea what they should do now.

BOSTON (NY Times) — Gov. Charlie Baker has signed a bill aimed at delaying the opening of marijuana shops in Massachusetts, approved by voters in a ballot initiative in November, until mid-2018.

A spokeswoman said Mr. Baker shared a desire with state lawmakers to thoroughly prepare for the start of a new industry distributing a controlled substance.

The House and Senate passed the bill Wednesday without a public hearing and without debate during informal sessions in both chambers. Only a handful of lawmakers were present.

After all, there is no way Massachusetts lawmakers could have been prepared for the eventuality of legalized marijuana in their state. If the people had spent the past dozen years passing 83 local non-binding public policy questions approving the legalization of marijuana, or if they had passed decriminalization by a nearly two-to-one margin eight years prior, maybe then the lawmakers would have had some inkling that they should get prepared for a legal weed market.

AUGUSTA (WGME) – Lawmakers say they need more time to come up with rules around legal pot, so Maine’s senate president and house speaker are looking to delay major provisions of Question 1.

The bill calls for a 1-year moratorium on marijuana sales to adults. It would also ensure marijuana is not legal for youths and prohibit marijuana edibles.

Senate President Mike Thibodeau says this plan gives the state more time.

It’s only natural that Maine’s lawmakers need more time to figure out how to legalize marijuana. If perhaps there had been four states prior that had legalized marijuana, with at least two of them having two or more years of working regulated systems, then Maine could analyze what works best in those states and tailor it to their own needs.

But there’s no way they could have had the foresight to imagine Maine legalizing marijuana. Now, if they’d have seen some sort of obvious sign legalization was imminent, like their largest city passing legalization by 70 percent of the vote a little over three years ago, maybe they could have planned ahead a bit.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Caught off-guard by voters in this highly conservative state approving medical marijuana, North Dakota lawmakers said Monday that more time is needed to implement the law.

A rare joint House and Senate meeting was held to consider a proposal to delay the law until the end of July. The so-called emergency measure is supported by both Republican and Democratic leaders, who said state health officials and law enforcement are scrambling to solve a number of issues, including allowable forms and potency of medical pot, and oversight of distributors.

“It’s important to allow time to get this right,” Democratic Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckaman told lawmakers.

There could be nothing more important than making sure North Dakota lawmakers get it right on medical marijuana. It’s not like medical marijuana’s been around for twenty years and been regulated in more than half of the United States. If that were the case, lawmakers could just analyze what’s working in those states and adapt it to theirs.

Sure, there are sick and disabled people suffering every day it takes North Dakota to finally provide access. But since North Dakota is the first state to ever pass medical marijuana, they’ll just have to wait until the legislature is sure they’ve gotten it right.

Russ Belville
About Russ Belville 199 Articles
Russ Belville - or "Radical" Russ, as he is known on-air - hosts The Marijuana Agenda, a live news and talk radio program for the cannabis community, weekdays at 3pm Pacific on  The show is based in Portland, Oregon, but "Radical" Russ has traveled over 300,000 air miles in the past five years, bringing his show to report live from hundreds of cannabis conferences, marijuana expos, hemp festivals, and legalization events in over 70 North American cities.