The year 2020 is predicted to be the year of cannabis legalization, as states open up and move forward with legalization. Even conservative states like Oklahoma are getting on board and making marijuana legalization happen.
As lawmakers in these states change marijuana laws, they are placing pressure on the federal government’s seemingly set-in-stone federal ban. The hope is that increased pressure will lead to more scientific research being funded and completed.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that we can win more marijuana reform ballot initiatives on one Election Day than on any previous Election Day,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project. Schweich cited growing public support for the issue among both liberals and conservatives.
Even Conservatives are Voting Yes
Liberal states like California, Oregon and Massachusetts have already voted to legalize marijuana. And they are noticing conservatives are enthusiastically joining the party and heavily influencing the future decisions of other red states.
“If we can pass medical marijuana in Utah, we can pass it anywhere.”
Supporters shouldn’t get too confident just yet, however. In swing states like Ohio and Florida, nothing is guaranteed. In fact, polling in Florida reports two-thirds of voters want marijuana legalization but not enough signatures were collected in time. Additionally, states like New York and New Jersey are struggling to help those harmed by criminal marijuana prosecution.
Here’s more detail on specific states and how they are leaning to give you a better insight into what the future holds, according to this article by POLITICO:
New Mexico — This state will likely prove to be the first 2020 marijuana battleground. The Legislature convenes Tuesday and marijuana legalization will be near the top of the agenda. Arguably the biggest hurdle: the legislative session lasts just 30 days.
New Jersey — After falling short on votes needed to legalize marijuana last year, New Jersey lawmakers opted to put the question before voters instead. State lawmakers approved a resolution to put the legalization question on the ballot in December. Polls have found widespread support in the state for legal marijuana.
New York — Lawmakers in New York failed to legalize marijuana in 2019, despite mostly agreeing that it should be legalized. They did pass legislation to expunge past cannabis convictions, and how that will be implemented remains to be seen. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo said again this month that marijuana legalization is a priority for his administration and has convened regional governors to coordinate efforts.
Connecticut — Lawmakers did not want to take on such a controversial topic during a short session in a presidential election year. But thanks to Cuomo’s efforts to coordinate legalization in the region, “there is talk now that this could happen, whereas before it was absolutely not going to happen.”
Arizona — Five states voted on recreational cannabis legalization initiatives in 2016, and only one failed: Proposition 205 in Arizona. The margin was narrow — about 51 percent of voters rejected the measure — so chances are good for a ballot initiative this year.
Oklahoma — Voters will likely get the chance to weigh in on a recreational initiative after legalizing medical marijuana via the ballot box in 2018. The state is now home to a fast-growing industry with the highest number of medical marijuana patients per capita in the country.
Missouri — Similar to Oklahoma, advocates in Missouri are also collecting signatures in hopes of qualifying for the ballot. Both states have legislatures that are dominated by Republicans but are home to voters who approved medical marijuana legalization at the ballot box in 2018.
Montana — The state legalization effort, which will get help from Washington, D.C.-based groups Marijuana Policy Project and New Approach PAC, aims to legalize marijuana through two initiatives, thanks to the peculiarities of Montana’s constitution.
South Dakota — While most other campaigns haven’t made the ballot yet, both medical marijuana and recreational legalization questions in South Dakota already have been validated by the secretary of state. It will be the first time a state votes on medical marijuana and adult-use legalization on the same day..
Mississippi — The campaign to put medical marijuana to Mississippi voters is headed to the ballot. Advocates are optimistic about medical marijuana proposals in conservative states, as long as the campaigns are sufficiently funded. “[When] presented with a patient who has a legitimate need … the vast majority of voters are sympathetic to that,” Schweich said.
Idaho — Idaho, which outlaws all types of cannabis, is a notable exception in a region filled with legal weed. The state shares borders with Washington, Oregon and Nevada, home to flourishing adult-use markets. And Canada to the north, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2018. Organizers hope shifting political opinions regarding cannabis will mean Idahoans are ready to vote “yes” on the issue.
Kansas — One of the few states left that bans all forms of cannabis, Kansas doesn’t have a ballot initiative process. Whether there is appetite to pass legislation in the legislature this year remains to be seen, but Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has advocated for medical marijuana legalization on the campaign trail.
Cannabis legalization is a hot topic, but it’s becoming less controversial as more people open their minds to the idea. Because it’s a state issue, it can get complicated, but we trust that the checks and balances set in place are enough to make sure that voters are getting what they want and along the way people will be helped and healed.
Resources and References: