Cannabis legalization is sweeping the nation, and plenty of states are looking at legalizing both recreational and medical marijuana through the various ballot and legislative measures pending in 2020. These 13 separate states could roll out the green carpet before the year comes to a close.
Pondering Recreational Legalization
- Arizona: This one is tricky. There are two initiatives in process, and one spells out a whopping 18% excise tax. With that in mind, the passage of even one ballot measure is iffy.
- Connecticut: Flying high off the effects of Massachusetts’ recreational legalization, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont predicted last year that the state would legalize adult use. Gov. Lamont has emerged as a critical player with New York’s Gov. Cuomo in the effort to develop a regional legalization approach.
- Florida: Doesn’t it seem like Florida already had legal recreational weed? Surprise – it’s not legal yet. That’s a more likely possibility in the future, but not without some snags. Recently, proponents (the group Make it Legal Florida) ran out of time to collect the 766,200 signatures needed to place the adult-use marijuana issue on the ballot. The group will focus on getting recreational marijuana on the ballot in 2022.
- Montana: National groups are backing a ballot initiative in Montana. The result might just put enough pressure on a resistant state Legislature to consider a pre-emptive bill.
- New Jersey: Lawmakers voted to put the issue on the November ballot. It appears it has a solid chance of passing, thanks to a ‘legalize now, details later’ format.
- New Mexico: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham took office in 2019, and it seemed like legalization was nigh. However, although legislation stalled in 2019, a legalization advisory group is preparing for a mutually agreeable approach this year.
- New York: Barring disagreements on revenue allocation and social justice programs, Gov. Cuomo has made adult-use legalization a top priority again in 2020.
- Pennsylvania: This one’s a wild card. While state Senate Republicans have made it clear they have no interest in considering legalization legislation in 2020, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf appears to be open to the topic, and he participated in Cuomo’s Northeast summit. In a case of peer pressure, perhaps if New York and New Jersey both legalize, the scales might tip in favor of Pennsylvania following suit.
- South Dakota: In a double whammy, 2020 will mark the first time a state has voted on legalizing both medical and adult-use marijuana on one ballot. The proposed excise tax of 15% is a doozy, and there remain the details on licensing. The state Department of Revenue would be the license gatekeeper, and a mandate to drive out the illicit cannabis market is being discussed.
- Vermont: This should be easy-peasy. The state Legislature legalized adult-use and home propagation two years ago. In 2019 the state Senate agreed to a commercial sales program, and it’s highly likely the House of Representatives will follow suit.
Medical Marijuana? Maybe.
- Alabama: Stereotypically a conservative stronghold, the state is actually likely to pass a medical cannabis program via its Legislature in 2020. A study commission approved a draft bill that would legalize MMJ for diagnosed medical conditions. The draft bill would prohibit smokable flower and edibles.
- Kentucky: While the state has been focused on industrial hemp cultivation, Kentucky is making strides in legalizing medical marijuana. The House Judiciary Committee approved an MMJ bill in 2019.
- Mississippi: Like Alabama, this conservative Deep South state has an excellent chance to pass a medical cannabis program via ballot initiative in 2020, despite resistance from the state Board of Health. The action would impose no limits on the potential number of licenses, making Mississippi a potentially canna-business friendly state.
- South Dakota: Back to the double whammy state from earlier. Voters will soon be able to decide on a medical cannabis initiative that gives local governments the power to determine how many licenses are issued in their jurisdiction.