States We Expect to Legalize Cannabis in 2021
We’ve come a long way. An act that could once result in federal prison sentences and ruined lives is now completely legal for more than half the country. At the time of writing, 34 states have implemented legalized medical cannabis programs and of those, 15 states as well as Washington D.C. have pivoted to an adult-use (or as some know, “recreational”) market. It is easy to celebrate these victories, but we have to remember that there are still several states who continue to fight (and fund with taxpayer dollars) the failed war on drugs. As time goes on, we expect ass-backwards legislators in these conservative areas to realize how much tax revenue they’re missing out on and how it is pointless to ruin a kid’s life by throwing them in prison for holding less bud than you probably have between your couch cushions. Much to everyone’s surprise, the political landscape has a very blue tint after the most recent election cycle. We now have a president, senate, and congress who are all very progressive in terms of cannabis legalization. This year is shaping up to be a milestone year for cannabis supporters around the nation. Let’s take a look at the states we expect to legalize cannabis in 2021.
Connecticut has been (unsuccessfully) shooting its shot for a minute when it comes legalizing cannabis, but 2021 might be the year that everything comes to fruition. One of the latest situations that seems to be responsible for pushing Connecticut over the finish line is the fact that most of the states around it have legalized some form of cannabis. In other words, legislators in the state are likely seeing the potential tax revenue leaving the state as those residing near the border likely just hop over to the neighboring state anytime they want to get down with some green. If things don’t work out for Connecticut in 2021, legislators have already signaled that they will let the voters decide in 2022 by means of a referendum on that year’s ballot. We should point out that Connecticut already has a medical program, and this push is specifically for an adult-use program.
In a similar situation to Connecticut, New Mexico is trying to get in on some of that sweet tax revenue by expanding their existing medical cannabis program to a full-fledged adult-use framework. In fact, representatives from the state have all but stated this. NM’s governor, Michelle Grisham alluded to the fact that expanding to an adult-use program could generate tax revenue that the state could utilize more now than ever, given how COVID wrecked their budgets in 2020.
Oh, New York. How badly we want you to become the weed headquarters of the east coast. You’ve got a flourishing medical program in place and despite Gov. Cuomo’s attempts to implement an adult-use program, you just can’t seem to make that happen! At the time of writing, there are eight cannabis reform bills that have already been prefiled to be heard during this year’s sessions. New York is in such a special situation because of the vast amount of cannabis related businesses who want to establish a headquartered operation on the east coast. NY has an excellent infrastructure for just this type of need and once again, last year’s budget annihilation will likely make opponents a little more open to hearing what cannabis supporters have to say. Additionally, the great New York/New Jersey race to legalization is currently being led by New Jersey. In late February 2021, New Jersey officially legalized adult-use cannabis in the state. We all thought NY would be first on the train, but New Jersey came in all “surprise shawty!” and beat them to the punch.
Noticing a trend here? Looks like the Northeast is finally getting their shit together this year. RI senator Majority Leader, Michael McCaffrey signaled in November 2020 that, “the time has come to legalize adult-use cannabis”. Furthermore, it seems like the rest of the RI crew are on-board to get the joint….err…ball rolling on an adult-use program as well. At this point, RI seems like they’re just working out the logistics on an adult-use program.
This is what we like to see…cannabis reform trickling down into the more conservative south. Sure, VA isn’t exactly “the south”, but it is a step in the right direction and could very likely force the hand of neighboring North Carolina to make a decision on cannabis sooner than later. 2019 and 2020 were both progressive years for Virginia’s stance on cannabis and Gov. Northam has also signaled that he supports legalization of adult-use cannabis in the state. The state has also addressed the growing problem of asset forfeiture by law enforcement. New legislation is set to go into effect this October which will prevent police officers from searching or even taking a citizen’s property because they simply “say” they “smell” cannabis. Crazy to think that there are still parts of the “land of the free” where this kind of shit happens.
Who is shocked to see this state pop up on our list? We will admit, we were sort of surprised as well, but for once, it seems that Alabama is trying to break ties with some of its previous antiquated cannabis enforcement regulations. The state almost got through in 2020, but COVID screwed all of that up. It isn’t a done deal by any means, Alabama’s new senate president was one party who voted against medical cannabis in 2020, although he seems to at least be somewhat open to discussing the bill again this year.
Let’s be realistic, we don’t live in a perfect world (one where we wouldn’t even be having this conversation), but we are at least moving in the preferred direction. Given the amount of research available, the benefits of medical cannabis, and the fact that we shouldn’t rely on a few old-timer legislators to make decisions about the medicine we can or can’t take, it is just a matter of time before this becomes a non-issue. In the meantime, we continue to tell you to let your voice be heard. Things like contacting your state representatives (or another state’s reps) and voting are some of the strongest tools you have in your kit. We can see the (green) light at the end of the tunnel!