Cannabis Legalization Could Make New Strides in 2023

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Maryland and Missouri in the November elections made new strides to reform the nation's cannabis laws.

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In Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota, the same proposition on the ballot failed to get voters' approval.

Connecticut became the first state in the country to sell adult-use cannabis on January 10, a move that was preceded by the expungement of thousands of marijuana-related convictions at the beginning of the year.

 Several states are likely to make new ground in the fight to end cannabis prohibition as we head into the next decade. There is a new focus. Despite spending millions of dollars on lobbying federal lawmakers, cannabis activists could not get any meaningful cannabis policy reform to the next level.

Efforts this year will be different because of the political climate in Washington, D.C. With Republicans in the House, any federal reform in the next two years is very unlikely. 

Vicente said in an email that movement leaders have begun coalescing around a cannabis legal strategy to cut back on federal lobbying. 

These efforts aim to flip as many as ten states to adult use in just three years, which would open new markets for consumers, create more intense pressure on Congress to pass legislation, and align federal law with the thirty-odd states where marijuana is legal for adults.

More than a half-dozen states are more likely to consider cannabis legislation to reform their marijuana laws in the new year, with most activity centered in the South and Midwest regions. Outside those broad enforcement areas, Hawaii could be poised to make progress on the issue with a new state governor at the helm, 

Democrat Josh Green, who supported expanding the state's current legalization of medical marijuana to include adult-use cannabis as part of his campaign for office last year. 

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On January 11, Kapela announced her plans to introduce a recreational marijuana legalization bill. Kapela said in a statement that they plan to legalize recreational cannabis.

Marijuana is not just a matter of money, and it is a matter of morals. The bill has some hurdles to clear before it can get to Green, according to a regulatory analyst with Simplifya. The president of the Hawaii Senate has already made a press release with statements expressing skepticism on any fast movement for cannabis legalization, and many elected officials are still waiting on the report from the dual use of state marijuana task force to guide their votes in the new year. The task force may recommend full legalization, but prior experience in other states suggests that legislators will take their time with any report's findings and that a sudden move toward legalization is unlikely. The southern part of the United States. 

Vicente thinks that Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina could become the first states in the South to allow medical marijuana. The nearby states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida are already showing that a regulated cannabis industry can provide jobs and tax revenue.

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One of the few states that still hasn't legalized marijuana is South Carolina, where Nancy Mace a state official, has become one of the few Republicans in Congress who is surprisingly advocating for cannabis policy reform. 

More than 75% of voters in the state support the legalization of medical cannabis, according to a poll conducted before the election.

 Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have pre-filed medical cannabis legalization bills. The legislation is not expected to survive, according to a regulatory analyst. He wrote in an email that South Carolina, with stubborn state officials, still has a long way to go before commercial marijuana legalization occurs. Most of the cannabis-related bills died in the early stages of development. Nothing has changed in the state's socio-political environment.

The Senate in North Carolina passed a bill to allow medical marijuana in June of 2022, but the House of Representatives did not take up the legislation. Public support for medical cannabis legalization is strong, and if a bill makes it to the desk of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, he will sign it into law.

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A poll in January 2020 by the University of North Carolina found that most people in the state support medical cannabis.

In May 2022, a poll showed that support had increased to 82%. I believe the governor will support the legalization of a medical cannabis bill shortly.

On New Year's Day, an executive order from Beshear decriminalizing medical marijuana went into effect in Kentucky. According to an online resource Business Insurance report, Senate Bill 51 would allow the possession, cultivation, production, processing, packaging, transportation, testing, marketing, sale, and use of medical cannabis. The legislation has a good chance of success, with Kentucky being one of the nation's largest producers.

The states of the Midwest and surrounding areas. States in the Midwest could make changes to their cannabis policy shortly. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol's cannabis legalization measure was kept off the November ballot in Ohio because of legal challenges. Secretary of State Frank LaRose reintroduced a proposal last week that would have legalized marijuana and imposed a 10% tax on commercial cannabis products. If the legislature doesn't approve the measure in four months, the coalition can put it to a vote. Trent Woloveck, chief commercial director of cannabis commerce platform Jushi, believes that legalization efforts in Ohio will succeed this year.

He says that it is unlikely that the legislature will act on the initiated stature in the next four months but that the Coalition will be able to gather the required signatures. 

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The Senate president and other legislators disagree with polling that suggests a cannabis legalization initiative will pass.

The legislature can repeal or revise legalization even if voters approve an initiated statute. Pennsylvania has a new governor who supports the legalization of marijuana. A new Democratic majority in the state House of Representatives may help the chances of success in the issue. While we've heard some interest from both sides of the aisle in the past, conversations about legalization seem to be happening among a much larger group of legislators. Several legislators, who were previously unwilling to engage in any cannabis-related discussions, now acknowledge something has to be done about the illegal market and to stop revenue from flowing to neighboring states where people can buy legal, regulated cannabis for non-medical purposes. 

According to cannabis policy experts, Minnesota could be the most likely state to legalize recreational marijuana in the next five years.

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) is in charge of both the legislative and executive branches of government, and party leaders, including Gov. Tim Walz, have said that cannabis legalization will be a priority for next year. A bill sponsored by two DFL lawmakers was approved by a legislative committee last week.

In Oklahoma, where 10% of adults hold cards to participate in the state's liberal medical cannabis program, voters will decide on a ballot measure to legalize recreational cannabis. Adults 21 and older could use marijuana if the question passed. Provisions to expunge past convictions for marijuana-related offenses are included in the measure. Proponents of the measure had hoped it would appear before voters during the End of year elections. Still, a delay in certifying petition signatures and legal cannabis challenges prevented it from being on the ballot.

Lawmakers in other states, including Georgia and Delaware, could take up measures to legalize marijuana this year.

Still, the chances of success in the future are not very good. If the trend seen over the last decade continues, progress in cannabis policy will likely continue. Vicente notes that since Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize cannabis, an average of two states have passed adult-use laws per year. The trend will continue with both Oklahoma and Minnesota likely to be legalized.

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