California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada, which recently voted to legalize recreational marijuana, are faced with setting rules for a product that has been outlawed by the federal government since the 1930s, Stateline reports. They will need rules about where pot shops can be located and whether dispensaries can sell food and candy infused with marijuana. They will also have to dovetail their recreational regulations with an existing medical marijuana industry. It could take several years. Colorado and Washington paved the way for recreational marijuana by legalizing it in 2012, but they are still sorting out policy details. There is often a gap between the language of ballot measures like California’s and the detailed regulations needed to get marijuana markets off the ground.
The referendums that voters approve often call for quick implementation, giving legislators and regulators little or no time to enact policies before the drug becomes legal. “There’s no perfect implementation, there’s no perfect legalization effort,” said Michael Correia of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “There’s going to be hiccups.” States also face banking challenges, licensing skirmishes and drugged driving debates. Despite all the difficulties, more states are expected to jump into the legalization fray. This year, at least 12 states are considering legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana. Another seven are looking at measures to decriminalize simple possession of marijuana and nearly 30 ballot measures related to marijuana are being considered for elections in 2017 and 2018.