5 U.S. States Moving Towards Marijuana Legalization
Aug 26, 2020
The rallying cry of “legalize it!” has long been shouted at demonstrations and protests by proponents for cannabis legalization, and over the past few years, these proponents have seen some huge success. Despite remaining illegal under federal law due to the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis has been legalized for medical or adult recreational use in many states, in jurisdictions as different as California and Alaska. Efforts to legalize cannabis reemerge on a regular basis in almost every state, to varying degrees of success. Cannabis legalization efforts are supported by wide swaths of the population, from wildly different walks of life. Supporters include criminal justice reformers, medical professionals, cannabis industry members, and many other groups. In this article, we’ll outline five states that appear to be quickly approaching legalization through state legislation, ballot initiatives, or other means.
Florida’s relationship to cannabis began to change in 2014, with the legalization of CBD oil. The 2014 ballot saw medical legalization come close to passing as a constitutional amendment, but the measure fell short by less than three percent. Medical use finally became a reality for Floridians with a successful second attempt at a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2016, passing with 71% of the vote. Various counties and cities have also made changes to decriminalize possession. A boom in the medical use market was boosted even further by a 2019 change that allowed flower sale for medical use. With a recent poll showing 64% of Floridians supporting legalization, it looks like something might be brewing in the Florida legislature!
Another state making moves towards cannabis legalization that may surprise you is Arkansas! States that lean conservative are generally less likely to consider cannabis legalization, but the medical use market in Arkansas began sales in May 2019. When you consider that most states with full legalization started with medical use, Arkansas seems like a hopeful prospect.
Hot and dry Arizona is our third state to keep an eye on; Arizona was actually one of the pioneer states of medical cannabis use laws! A 1996 proposition was passed that allowed physicians to prescribe cannabis but was unfortunately stymied by federal law. An attempt was made to decriminalize recreational use in 2002 and earned a respectable 42% of the vote, but did not pass. Medical use finally was legalized in 2010, with a narrow margin. Most recently, a proposition to allow recreational use was defeated in a close race, with 48% voting in favor. With this many close races, it’s a safe bet that legalization will come soon.
New York has a long history with cannabis, naming it as a prohibited narcotic in a 1927 bill. Despite this, cannabis growth continued until a city task force known as the “White Wing Squad” was created in 1951 to seek out and remove cannabis farms, borough by borough. Thankfully, recent years have seen medical legalization and successful decriminalization efforts with the goal of reducing unequal prosecution. The New York State Legislature’s 2019 session was almost unanimously in favor of legalization, but disagreements over the details caused too much delay. Early in 2020 New York governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to legalize cannabis by the end of the year, so it’s up to legislators to smooth out the details of who is allowed to grow, sell and profit from cannabis legalization. Want to know how you can profit yourself from cannabis? Check out our Investment page here.
Just over the state line from New York, New Jersey has also had a turbulent relationship with cannabis. The 2010s saw a spike in cannabis arrests, reaching the highest number of arrests of any US state in 2017, despite a decline nationally. While having legalized medical marijuana in 2010, regulations are stricter than most other states, leading to low availability. Current medical regulation limits medical marijuana contracts to only 6 producers and dispensaries. Much of this slow progress can be attributed to former governor Chris Christie, an ardent opponent of cannabis legalization. The 2018 elections brought in a new governor, who New Jersey cannabis advocates hope will be more open to the cause. Adult use legalization will also be on the 2020 ballot for New Jersey voters, who are generally in favor of legalization. New Jersey could be enjoying legal cannabis by as soon as the end of 2020!
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