Voters in Washington, D.C., Oregon and Alaska followed Colorado and Washington in voting to legalize cannabis for recreational use. The historic votes signal victories for pro-legalization advocates hoping to bring legal cannabis to even more states in 2016.
Cannabis entrepreneurs in Oregon and Alaska, which are slated to open retail pot shops in coming years, say they are thrilled. (D.C.’s measure did not legalize the sale of marijuana.)
“I’m very excited. I’ve been medicating with marijuana since I was 21 years old,” said Mario Mamone, who owns the medical marijuana dispensaryMaritime Cafe in Clackamus County, Oregon, and who suffers from back spasms dating to the late 1960s when he was a soldier in Vietnam.
“I’ve always been afraid I’d be arrested and thrown in jail. But this lifts the stigma,” he said.
But it’s not all sunshine and roses for the marijuana industry that’s developing in the Pacific Northwest. Cannabis entrepreneurs say the way legal weed is being rolled out by state governments can be problematic. Their concerns add to the growing pains experienced by advocates and regulators in trying to figure out the best way to safely regulate the fledgling industry.