These U.S. States look set to legalize cannabis in 2019

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These U.S. States look set to legalize cannabis in 2019

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Cannabis was a hot topic at December’s midterm elections, with the number of states in which medical cannabis is legal creeping up to 33, while the number of recreational cannabis states hit 10, not forgetting Washington D.C., too.

Victories at the ballot box rounded off 2018 nicely; a year in which cannabis policies improved immensely at state, federal and international levels.

So, which U.S. States look set to legalize the green stuff in 2019? Let’s take a look at some places on the map that are likely to welcome cannabis reform this year:

  • Connecticut – During his pro-cannabis campaign, Governor-elect Ned Lamont (D) described legalization as “an idea whose time has come.” Following a victory on Election Day, Lamont vowed to make cannabis legalization in Connecticut one of his priorities in 2019. Passing a bill this year could harvest a generous amount of revenue for the state and since so many cannabis opponents have left the Legislature, things look good.
  • Illinois – Support for cannabis legalization in Illinois comes directly from Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), who batted for legal weed during his campaign. Once Election Day had come and gone, Pritzker declared that he wants to push forward with legalization “nearly right away” once the new legislature next congregate. Furthermore, Illinois’ House speaker has publicly declared his support for the governor’s plans to legalize cannabis in the state.
  • Minnesota – The man set to replace Minnesota’s former anti-pot Democratic governor is Gov. Tim Walz (D). He Has vowed to “replace the current failed policy with one that creates tax revenue, grows jobs, builds opportunities for Minnesotans, protects Minnesota kids, and trusts adults to make personal decisions based on their personal freedoms.” Minnesotans should put their trust in him to get the job done since he authored the first-ever standalone cannabis bill to gain approval from a congressional committee.
  • New Hampshire – Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed a bill to decriminalize cannabis possession into law back in 2017. Nonetheless, he doesn’t plan to proceed any further with legalization, “regardless of what the language looks like.” On the plus side, Democratic control of state legislature chambers commenced at the midterm election, meaning that increased support from lawmakers could push legalization in the right direction.
  • New Jersey – Following his election in 2017, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) campaigned to support cannabis legalization. In November, the Senate and Assembly committees gave cannabis legalization legislation the thumbs-up. While there are still certain details to be pondered over by the Governor and state lawmakers, including regulatory structures and tax rates, the process of developing a bill and sending it to Murphy’s desk is gradually gaining momentum.
  • New Mexico – Now that ‎Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) has been elected as the State of New Mexico’s next governor, the chances of legalization in 2019 have skyrocketed. During her time spent serving in Congress, Grisham batted hard for cannabis reform, which she says could generate “hundreds of millions of dollars to New Mexico’s economy.” In the event that a legalization bill is submitted this year, the state’s House speaker has said that “it would probably pass.”
  • New York – Gov. Andrew Cuomo abruptly changed his “gateway drug” opinion on weed after announcing that it’s time to “legalize the adult use of recreational [cannabis] once and for all.” For the year ahead, Cuomo will strive to draft legal cannabis legislation, of which will be handed over to lawmakers for consideration. Moreover, Cuomo instructed the Health Department to intensely study legalization, with the results confirming that the pros of cannabis legalization in New York far outweigh the cons. New York City’s Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio also endorses legalization.
  • Vermont -Last year, the legalization of cannabis cultivation in small amounts and possession was passed by Vermont lawmakers. Currently, the law does not permit commercial cannabis production and sales in any form, meaning that the plant’s trade is not being regulated like it could be, not to mention the tax revenue Vermont is missing out on. The House would likely be more open about the prospect of legal weed in 2019, now that cannabis possession has been legalized. Pot advocates are hopeful that the Democratic-led legislature will send a bill containing legal cannabis commerce to the desk of Gov. Phil Scott (R) in 2019.