As of January 2019, medical marijuana is legal in 33 U.S. states plus Washington, D.C. Recreational marijuana is legal in 11 states, plus Washington, D.C. Thirteen additional states have decriminalized recreational marijuana, meaning that those caught with marijuana don’t receive jail time but may be fined, lose their drivers license, or face other smaller penalties.
It’s only a matter of time before more states legalize marijuana, either for medical or recreational use or for both purposes. Currently, multiple states that still have laws against marijuana have seen bills introduced, and advocates stand up to have marijuana legalized. With so many people coming forward in support of marijuana, you can’t help but wonder which states will be the next to legalize its use.
States That Could Legalize Weed in 2020
In December 2019, lawmakers voted to put a legalization question on the 2020 ballot. State Senator Nicholas Scutari introduced the New Jersey Marijuana legalization, which passed in November 2018; however, its progress was stagnant because lawmakers disagreed on details of legalization, such as tax rate and regulatory oversight. In March 2019, it collapsed after making no progress.
A Monmouth University Poll found that 62% of New Jersey adults currently support legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Given this, the measure is likely to be approved by voters. Three-quarters of the public surveyed also support the opportunity for those with past drug possession convictions to expunge their records.
Governor Andrew Cuomo is strongly pushing for marijuana legalization in New York in 2020. The plan would legalize and tax marijuana, as well as pour money into the minority communities that were impacted by the War on Drugs. When similar legislation was proposed in 2019, it met surprising opposition from progressive activists who believed that the measure did not help the minority communities enough.
In June 2019, New York passed legislation that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana and expunged prior convictions. This alone is historic for New York and puts the state in the right direction towards the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Vermont legalized possession and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and older in 2018. In February 2019, the Vermont Senate passed S.54 to regulate and tax the sale of marijuana and in May 2019, the House Government Operations Committee approved it. The House, however, adjourned in May without bringing the bill to a vote.
In 2020, the House resumed working on S.54 early in 2020 and is expected to vote on it in February.
In 2016, Arizona voters narrowly rejected a marijuana legalization measure with 48.7% support.
The Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative, referred to as the Smart and Safe Act, would legalize the possession, consumption, cultivation, and sale of marijuana to people over 21 and would tax sales at 16%. The Smart and Safe Act will appear on the 2020 ballot if a minimum of 237,645 valid voter signatures is obtained by July 2, 2020. According to a survey conducted by OH Predictive Insights, a poll shows support of legalization by a 50 to 40 margin, with 10% undecided.
Florida voters will not be voting to legalize recreational marijuana in 2020. Make It Legal Florida, the group leading the efforts to get a constitutional amendment for recreational marijuana, announced in January of 2020 that they received more than 700,000 signed petitions to bring adult-use marijuana to Florida; however, they are pushing their efforts to get the bill on the 2022 ballot now. Make It Legal needed 700,000 verified signatures by February 1st, but the timeframe to get them verified was too small and the group only had 295,072 verified by mid-January.
Make It Legal Florida is now setting its focus on getting an amendment on the ballot for the 2022.
In 2016, Arkansas voters passed a medical marijuana amendment. The Arkansas Adult-Use Cannabis Amendment proposal would legalize and regulate recreational marijuana for adults over 21 and tax revenue from marijuana sales. The proposal must gather 89,151 signatures by July 3, 2020, in order to appear on the 2020 ballot.
There is also a separate expungement measure where people with prior marijuana convictions would be able to appeal to courts for release from incarceration, reduction of remaining sentences, and restoration of voting rights.
Governor Ned Lamont has made it clear that he wants a push for marijuana legalization in 2020. In March and April 2019, three legislative committees in Connecticut legalized bills to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis; however, the legislature adjourned in June without bringing them to a vote.
In a coordinated regional approach to marijuana, Governor Lamont’s approach to marijuana legalization is similar to New York Governor Cuomo’s approach, including measures to right the wrongs of a war on drugs that has devastated minority communities. Governor Lamont’s Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation Bill can be found here.
About 65% of Connecticut residents support the legalization of marijuana.