Today, 16 states and Washington DC have legalized marijuana for adults over the age of 21, and 37 states have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Although the topic of marijuana legalization has always been a hot-button issue in the US, within the past ten years, public opinion regarding cannabis has changed significantly, with many Americans fighting for full recreational legalization. Daniel Fung, CT resident and cannabis expert, is hopeful that more states, including his state of Connecticut, will decriminalize cannabis in the upcoming year. Below, Daniel Fung of CT will discuss what states are most likely to legalize marijuana and the context for these legislative changes.
Over the years, there have been several attempts to legalize cannabis in Connecticut. This year, however, many experts believe that there is a strong chance that reform will take place in 2021. This is primarily due to the fact that marijuana policy within the east coast has been rapidly changing, putting pressure on Connecticut lawmakers to adopt new laws. Marijuana is now legal in New Jersey and Massachusetts, with New York likely to follow. Additionally, Democrats increased the majority in Connecticut’s state legislature in November’s election, furthering the chances of legalization in 2021.
This year, marijuana advocates are pushing for the Empire State to legalize marijuana for recreational use. While Gov. Andrew Cuomo is a major backer of the policy change, his last two budget requests to advance reform have declined. Although many leading lawmakers also support marijuana legalization, progress has been repeatedly stalled due to disagreements regarding marijuana tax and revenue allocations. With this in mind, many New Yorkers believe that marijuana may be legalized by the end of 2021 due to the financial strain COVID-19 has put on the state.
Last December, the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, reviewed a budget proposal to legalize marijuana and included millions of dollars to support efforts to expunge cannabis convictions as well as create a state system of commercial marijuana sales. Previously, Gov Ralph Northam has only campaigned for decriminalizing possession; however, this November, he publicly backed broader legalization of marijuana use for adults. However, in just a few short months, legislation to stop police from searching people or seizing property based solely on the smell of marijuana is set to take effect in October.