December 10, 2018

Recent Advancements on Cannabis Legalization in Missouri, Illinois, and Washington D.C.


The following items represent developments in states that have recently legalized cannabis for either medical or adult-use, as well as other states that appear to be moving to do so.


Missouri voters approved a ballot initiative – Constitutional Amendment 2 – in the recent midterm election, legalizing cannabis for medical use in the state. The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services (DHSS) recently issued a preliminary timeline for the implementation of Amendment 2. According to DHSS, license application forms will be available by early June 2019, with the state beginning to accept applications by early August 2019. A December 31, 2019 deadline is also in place regarding the issuance of licenses, suggesting that medical cannabis sales in Missouri will likely not begin until mid-2020 at the earliest.


In the midterm elections earlier this month, Illinois residents voted to elect J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, as the state’s next governor. Pritzker has expressed a desire to legalize cannabis for adult-use in Illinois, and a report from the Chicago Sun-Times states that lawmakers in the state legislature plan to introduce a bill or bills next year to that effect. If such legislation is passed early next year, time would be needed to formulate rules for the adult-use market, accept applications from businesses, and issue licenses, a process that could extend into late 2019. Illinois’ medical cannabis program consists currently of 55 dispensary storefronts open for business, serving around 25,000 unique patients per month recently.


Washington, D.C. voters approved the legalization of adult-use cannabis in the district in 2014, but Republicans in the U.S. Congress have since that time prevented local officials from constructing a regulated system for production, distribution, and sales. However, with Democrats gaining a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in November’s elections, a licensed commercial adult-use cannabis market in Washington, D.C. appears possible. According to Marijuana Moment, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser stated recently that she plans to submit legislation on the matter the District of Columbia Council in early 2019, but did not provide details of the plan.