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The growth of the cannabis industry leads to opportunities

In case you forgot, concentrates are still illegal in Arizona. Earlier this month, Rodney Jones' lawyers filed an appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court to overturn this summer's Court of Appeals decision outlawing concentrates, but the hearing will still take some time.

Despite legal technicalities, the state's cannabis industry, patients and dispensaries alike, seem to have followed in the spirit of a common refrain during this summer's commotion: Cannabis is still federally illegal in Arizona, but we sell it anyway. So, concentrates defiantly remain on the shelves and sales remain steady.

At this point, the fact that the federal government has yet to even decriminalize cannabis seems almost irrelevant, save for the constant cloud of potential mass felony convictions depending on which way the wind blows.

Legalization remains a developing topic in Congress. This year, 22 bills were introduced concerning everything from cannabis research to barring federal intervention to restricting federal intervention. That's more than twice the number of cannabis bills submitted last year.

Compared to where we were even five years ago, cannabis has permeated the country as much as it has Arizona. To do that while still technically illegal can obscure the fact that possession can land you in jail. (As the case of Mr. Jones shows.)

Still, some companies have invested heavily in national expansion.

Harvest, the largest Arizona dispensary with seven locations, has expanded into several other states from California to Massachusetts. They're set to have more locations than any other national company, and they're already competing in the top three.

Still, patients worry less about consuming in public with discrete methods like vapes.

Though we're nowhere near Colorado and Washington, seeing someone take a hit at a café or campus isn't nearly as uncommon as it used to be. Recreationally, destigmatization has led to many more infrequent users unconcerned with federal policy.

And still, a lot of people in the industry are looking to make a career in one of the many facets of the cannabis industry.

Aside from budtenders looking to move up into management, or growers who want to sow their seeds as far and wide as possible, startups in banking, research and culinary arts offer a whole new batch of opportunities catering to the cannabis industry.

One of the best parts of the cannabis industry is its potential for patients and careers alike.

Even though we're a couple years out, groups like NORML, Arizonans for Mindful Regulation and the Arizona Dispensaries Association have begun discussing a recreational cannabis ballot measure for 2020.

The last time voters tried to legalize recreational cannabis in 2016, advocates were met with a disappointing proposal that would have limited dispensary licenses and the sale of paraphernalia. Limited access to the industry killed that initiative.

In 2016, the proposition only failed by 2.6 percent, despite its glaring issues. In 2020, the right proposition certainly has a chance of winning voter approval.

So, let's not have a repeat scenario.

Let the ADA and AZFMR know what you want to see in the future of cannabis legalization through their contact forms at arizonadispensaries.org/contact/ and azfmr.com/contact-us/.

NORML has monthly meetings every second Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Ward 6 Council Office.

If cannabis legalization is important to you, make yourself heard now, before the opportunity is gone.

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