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Lawyer up: dreaming of the Apple Store of cannabis? Don’t hold your breath

Posted by   /  November 9, 2018  /  No Comments

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The cannabis industry wants to see bold and beautiful dispensaries, but the various state rules and regulations around the plant often turn sleek visions into clunky realities.

Disclaimer: This column is written for educational purposes only. It does not provide specific legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This column should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.

By Laura Bianchi | Merry Jane

It seems like everyone everywhere is on the hunt for the Apple Store of cannabis. Like it or not, there’s something about the iconic Apple Store — the way it blends slick luxury and cutting-edge tech with open-ended consumer freedom — that signifies the ultimate shopping experience. Once we have its equivalent in the world of cannabis, it seems, marijuana will have finally reached the mainstream once and for all.

But here’s the thing: Right now, in the vast majority of states with legal cannabis programs, it’s not possible to recreate the Apple Store experience in cannabis. A tech store is nowhere near as regulated as a dispensary. Obviously, iPads aren’t a federally-classified Schedule I substance. States don’t develop hundreds of pages of rules about who gets to buy an Apple Watch or how or where you are allowed to take that new iPhone for a test drive before purchasing it. Imagine if instead of walking straight into Apple’s wide-open arrangement of sleek wooden tables loaded with the company’s latest gizmos, first you had to stop into a waiting room while someone checked your ID or patient card. It would be a completely different experience.

Cannabis businesses and activists alike want the world to see big, bold, and beautiful dispensaries that showcase just how normalized and legitimate cannabis has become. But the various state rules and regulations around the plant often turn sleek visions into clunky realities. The stringent laws that  limit everything from how cannabis businesses can advertise to what tax exemptions they are allowed to take advantage of (which are virtually none) also make it challenging to design truly innovative pot shops.

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