Marijuana legalization for both medical and recreational use is a topic still fresh in everyone's mind. We're all wondering what states are likely to legalize it in the future. So many different laws are making their way through state legislation that it can be hard to keep track of the changes looming on the horizon.
What is happening in the world of marijuana legislation as we move into the first quarter of 2020? Which states are likely to push full legalization through this year, and what developments can we expect to see in cannabis laws for the beginning of this new decade?
Recreational Legalization on the Horizon
More than 2/3 of the U.S. population supports marijuana legalization, despite politicians who believe the negative press surrounding marijuana use dating back to "Reefer Madness." A whopping 91% support legalization for both recreational and medical use, according to the same study from the Pew Research Center. Increasingly, voters are becoming annoyed with legislators who won't listen to their constituents.
In 2020, 17 states are moving in the right direction. They have legislation on the books or on the ballot that could put them alongside the 11 regions that have already legalized it for recreational use.
This list includes:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
The U.S. Virgin Islands are also working on passing legislation that will legalize recreational marijuana for the territory. Other states, like Connecticut, didn't start their legislative session for legal weed until earlier this month. This state recently filed a marijuana legalization bill on Feb 6, 2020.
It's not just the high-THC marijuana products industry experts are focusing on, either. In November of 2019, there were 137 state and federal bills moving through their respective legislative branches that concentrated on hemp derivatives and low-THC products that utilize CBD.
States Starting to Decriminalize Cannabis
Not everyone is a fan of legalizing marijuana on a recreational level, but a few regions are working on decriminalizing it. Decriminalization would mean removing jail time for simple possession and replacing it with a fine, effectively making it a civil matter instead of a criminal one. Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia all have bills moving through state government that will, if passed, decriminalize marijuana possession.
New Medical Marijuana Programs
While many may still oppose marijuana legalization, nine out of every 10 people support its use for medical and recreational applications, according to Pew. Thirty-three states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, have all legalized marijuana for medical applications.
Ten more states have cannabis bills on the books right now to establish medical marijuana programs. These regions include:
- North and South Carolina
You might notice that many of these states overlap with the ones that we mentioned above as working toward recreational legalization. States like Iowa are trying to kill two birds with one stone with the plan that if one motion fails, maybe the other will pass. Even places that have until now opposed recreational legalization may have medical programs already in place.
Staying on Top of Marijuana Laws
There are so many changes going on in the legal weed industry that it can be hard to stay abreast of all of them. Right now, none of these developments are taking place on a federal level, so if you're struggling to keep up, focus on the marijuana laws in your home state.
If your legislators aren't making the adjustments you want to see, get involved by sending emails or text messages to your representatives and senators. Let them know that their constituents are disappointed and that they must begin making changes.
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