The Washington CannaBusiness Association hopes to ease restrictions on investors and entrepreneurs

While we can bicker about the size and color of our respective Red or Blue "waves" after November's midterm elections, there is one political movement that has been consistently gaining traction since 2012: the Green Wave. (And no, not of the Jill Stein variety.)

In the Washington marijuana industry, things on the legislative front haven't changed significantly. But that could soon change in the state's forthcoming legislative session, says Washington CannaBusiness Association Director Vicki Christophersen (WACA).

A statewide injunction on outside marijuana investment remains one of the biggest barriers for the Washington cannabis industry, Christophersen says. But WACA has been working with several lawmakers to introduce legislation in 2019 that would allow outside capital into Washington's cannabis industry.

The decision to ease some of the current regulations comes down to whether or not Washington state wants to remain competitive in the cannabis industry, she says, especially as more states vote to legalize marijuana, not to mention the national legalization in Canada.

"The train has left the station," she says. "The question for us is whether we will continue to be a leader."

Without that investment, Washington marijuana entrepreneurs have found themselves at a disadvantage. At the MJBizCon last month in Las Vegas, which brought nearly 30,000 cannabis professionals into its doors, she says non-Washington investors were reluctant to even speak with the state's entrepreneurs.

When Initiative 502 was first drafted, there were no other states that had legalized marijuana.

"The world has changed," she says.

Additionally, another barrier in Washington state is the increased scrutiny on marijuana shareholders. As it stands, cannabis entrepreneurs and shareholders are held to a higher vetting standard than their counterparts in liquor-related businesses. Christophersen says WACA is also working with lawmakers to ease some of these restrictions as well, bringing cannabis "more in line" with the liquor industry, an industry which shares the same oversight from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.

Obviously, another obstacle is federal prohibition. But anti-pot ex-Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned the day after the midterm elections, and Christophersen is upbeat about voter results around the country.

"We're getting to a critical mass now. We're getting to the point now where it has to be taken up at the federal level. We have momentum on our side," she says. "More importantly, I think it's important that Congress get to work and start crafting laws that will give this industry the certainty it deserves." ♦


Michigan: Voters approved recreational marijuana, 55.9 percent

Utah: Voters approved medicinal marijuana, 52.8 percent

Missouri: Voters approved medicinal marijuana, 65.6 percent

Wisconsin: Majorities in 16 counties supported various legalization efforts

Ohio: Five cities approved marijuana decriminalization

North Dakota: Voters declined to approve marijuana legalization, 59.4 percent

Colorado: Voters approved a state reclassification of hemp, 60.6 percent

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Through Oct. 29, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
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