As of January 1st, 33 states will have legalized medical cannabis; 12 of those have legalized adult-use cannabis as well. While federal reform seems unlikely in the near future, Congress has all but indicated it won’t meddle in legal marijuana markets. Knowing this, advocates in states where cannabis remains illegal press on. Since the vast majority of Americans are now in favor of ending prohibition, supporters are confident to say the least.
So which states will legalize marijuana next? Here’s our predictions.
Residents of the Garden State will officially vote on full legalization in November, after state lawmakers failed to come to an agreement on the topic last legislative session. Governor Phil Murphy, who was elected in 2018, made legalization a key issue in his campaign. New Jersey has had medical marijuana since 2010 and according to recent polls, 65% of residents are in favor of adult-use, making the upcoming vote appear to be a virtual formality.
The Bold North decriminalized simple marijuana possession when Jesse “The Body” Ventura was governor at the dawn of the millennium, though medical didn’t come until 2014. Due to an anti-pot administration at the time, Minnesota’s medical marijuana program is one of the most restrictive in the nation. However, the election of a new governor in 2018 brought along renewed enthusiasm for adult-use.
According to Newsweek, state legislators will vote in February on a bill similar to Illinois’ legalization bill, which goes into law January 1st. The Democractic-controlled House is expected to pass the bill, but it faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Like it’s neighbor New Jersey, New York was close to legalizing marijuana in 2019. Disagreements about taxation and social equity put the kibosh on adult-use, but negotiations are set to resume when lawmakers recovene.
"I think that 2020 could be the year we get it done,” said state Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), co-sponsor of The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, in a speech to cannabis industry professionals last October, according to SILive. She added that concerns about pricing and public safety will be addressed thoroughly before the next vote.
Voters in The Grand Canyon State narrowly voted down a measure to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016 but will revisit the issue during the next election cycle. The organization behind the ballot initiative, Smart & Safe Arizona, is currently boasting 50% support of the bill and efforts to push that a couple points up are at a fever pitch. With neighboring states California and Nevada already offering legal cannabis, it’s more than likely that Arizona will fall in line next time around.
A bill to fully legalize cannabis in Kentucky was recently introduced by a Democratic lawmaker and while it seems like a long shot, residents of the state have been slowly warming up to the idea. United States Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has been a staunch supporter of the burgeoning hemp industry and is seen as a key figure in efforts to reform cannabis laws as well. If he comes out in support of full legalization, voters in his home state are sure to follow.
Tell us, which states do you think will legalize cannabis in 2020?