This week, we cover the effects of legalization on arrests and drug treatment admissions, a plea for from the cannabis industry amid the Coronavirus pandemic, and the labeling of dispensaries as “essential businesses.” 

As always, we will also provide updates on legalization developments at the state level. 

Also, to keep you informed on the ongoing pandemic, we will provide recent news regarding the spread of COVID-19. 

As Cannabis Legalization Increases, Youth Drug Treatment Center Admissions Decrease

As the wave of cannabis legalization steadily takes hold across the country, speculation of its effects is debated constantly.

Among the areas of debate are the effects of legalization on youth drug use. Many fear that an increase in cannabis’ prevalence will result in more use among underage individuals. 

In a study done at Temple University, researchers assessed the connection between legalization and youth admissions to drug treatment centers. For the study, the researchers examined public drug treatment center statistics from Colorado and Washington State.

In the study, researchers found that admission for underage patients to such treatment centers sharply declined between 2008 and 2017. With both states legalizing adult cannabis use in 2012, the concept that legalization negatively influences youth populations comes under question. 

Federal Cannabis Prosecutions Fall As States Continue To Legalize

In the United States, drug-related crimes are the second-most prosecuted at the federal level. With this in mind, findings by the U.S. Sentencing Commission may be surprising to some.

Since 2012, the rate of federal prosecution of cannabis offenses has consistently decreased year by year. Recently, the U.S. Sentencing Commission announced that this trend is going nowhere. 

In 2012, the federal government prosecuted somewhere around 7,000 cannabis cases every year. At the end of 2019, fewer than 2,000 such cases were taken up by federal authorities—a threefold decrease. 

At a time where around a quarter of US citizens live in a state with recreational legalization, it seems likely that this decrease of federal prosecution will eventually wind its way down to zero. 

Several States Label Cannabis Companies As ‘Essential’ Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

As Coronavirus tightens its grip on the United States, several states are taking action to keep citizens safe. 

Among these precautions are stay-at-home orders, appearing in varying degrees of rigidness around the country. 

As states make the decision to encourage (or force) citizens to avoid public gatherings, an unexpected theme has arisen. 

Despite these stay-at-home orders, logic dictates that certain companies must remain open to keep society moving forward. Such businesses are legally labeled as “essential” and in twenty US states, cannabis businesses are among them. 

The distinction of cannabis companies as essential businesses demonstrates a substantial shift in public opinion regarding cannabis. 

A mere decade ago, involvement in cannabis sales was likely to result in jail time. Now, as the country enacts unprecedented quarantine measures, cannabis businesses are consistently recognized for their value to the community. 

Cannabis Industry Faces Exclusion From Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds

As Coronavirus continues to drastically alter everyday life in the US, the federal government is scrambling to keep things afloat. Among these efforts are a variety of federal relief funds, largely attempting to stimulate an economy stalled by the virus. 

However, as businesses are getting assurances that the federal government will step in to help, one industry is facing rejection. Due to cannabis’ treatment as a Schedule I substance, cannabis companies face a complete lack of federal relief. 

While the labeling of cannabis companies as “essential” in several states helps their cause, this may not be enough. Whether they can stay open or not, dispensaries will inevitably face a decrease in foot traffic amid the health crisis. 

State-level cannabis industries provide substantial streams of tax revenue in states with legalization. As such, a failure to financially resuscitate the cannabis industry amid this crisis could have serious consequences for several states. 

Continued Coverage Of State-Level Cannabis Decriminalization and Legalization Developments

In past months, the spread of cannabis decriminalization and legalization progress throughout the United States has been at a fever pitch. This week, several states saw developments in cannabis legalization. 

  • Nebraska activists have suspended a campaign to put medical cannabis legalization to a vote in November. Amid the Coronavirus crisis, signature-gathering efforts around the country have taken a hit as stay-at-home orders continue to increase. 
  • In Arizona, activists claim they have a sufficient amount of signatures to put recreational legalization to a vote. 
  • As New York struggles with Coronavirus, Governor Cuomo claims that cannabis legalization is still a priority. He has continued to press lawmakers to include legalization language in the states upcoming budget.
  • The Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency announced that, during the COVID-19 crisis, dispensaries can accept expired forms of ID. 
  • Maryland lawmakers approved a bill that will allow medical cannabis use on university campuses. 

Coronavirus Updates In The United States

As COVID-19 continues its spread throughout the US, we will provide you with updates to keep you up to speed. We will continue to include these updates at the end of This Week In Weed until further notice. 

Confirmed COVID-19 CASES In United States (As Of March, 22): 122,653

Confirmed COVID-19 DEATHS In United States (As Of March, 22): 2,112