Cannabis plants grow in the greenhouse at Vireo Health's medical marijuana cultivation facility on Aug. 19, 2016 in Johnstown, New York. (Drew Angerer, Getty Images)

Why legal retail marijuana in Massachusetts is a political game-changer for the East Coast

When considering maps of legal recreational marijuana states, it was impossible to miss the void of adult-use weed east of Colorado.

But that all changed on election day.

“Massachusetts coming on board was a really big deal,” said marijuana industry attorney Brian Vicente, a partner at Denver-based law firm Vicente Sederberg. “It was actually very similar to the Colorado campaign we were involved in here in 2012, where you had all of the establishment against it and some significant money coming out against it. And really, just like in Colorado four years ago, the Massachusetts voters saw through the bs there and did what was right, in spite of what the politicians were telling them to do.”

And Massachusetts’ vote was even more meaningful when you consider that it changed the existing narrative of what kinds of U.S. states are legalizing retail cannabis, as National Cannabis Industry Association deputy director Taylor West points out.

“It isn’t a state that fits the category that many of the other legalization states have,” West said. “There’s been this trend toward western states that have a heavy focus on direct democracy, a strong libertarian streak and that has been where we’ve seen a lot of progress — but is also means that some people have, in some ways, pigeonholed the idea that these are the only states that are caring about doing something with adult-use legalization.

“Massachusetts really flies in the face of that. It’s a much more traditional state, it’s one of the original colonies, it is an East Coast state — it doesn’t have that same image as the western states do, and yet the voters there, in defiance of the establishment, very clearly chose a legalized, regulated path over prohibition.”

Watch the full interview — with West, Vicente and Cannabist editor Ricardo Baca — above.

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