US states and Cannabis
Fourteen US states and territories have
legalized recreational cannabis sales for adults, with varying levels of
regulation. A total of 33 states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes.
The governors of New York, New Jersey,
Connecticut, and Pennsylvania convened this past fall for a summit on coordinating cannabis
and vaping policies. New Jersey is putting a
recreational cannabis constitutional measure before voters in November. New
York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently vowed that New York would legalize recreational cannabis in
2020. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf
also signaled to the state’s legislature and regulatory departments to begin
preparations for legalization.
Marijuana is currently legal for recreational
use in: Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Nevada,
Oregon, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, and, most recently,
Illinois, where it became legal on January 1, 2020.
Political committee Make It Legal Florida is
behind a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. According to their polling, over 65 percent
of Florida voters “want to have expanded access to cannabis for 21 and
Make it Legal Florida filed a lawsuit against
the state on Tuesday, alleging that a new election law placed restrictions on
the ballot initiative process that hampered their ability to collect
signatures. The state has verified only
219,290 signed petitions from Make It Legal, which is 28% of the total
signatures needed by the deadline.
Minnesota House Majority leader Ryan Winkler
(D) has been touring the state on the issue of cannabis legalization in an
effort to ready a bill for the state’s session in February. The Republican-controlled Senate remains
opposed to legalization.
A measure to legalize cannabis for adults
fizzled out despite support from Governor Cuomo and voters. Instead, another measure downgraded
possession from a misdemeanor to a fine. However, police may still arrest people with
more than two ounces of the drug on them.
Governor Cuomo has continued to push the issue, hiring a major force in
pro-legalization efforts to lead the state’s cannabis program, and pledging to
get the measure done in 2020.
The state will vote on legalization of
recreational marijuana in November 2020.
If passed, the measure would allow New Jersey residents 21 and older to
use cannabis recreationally. All sales
of cannabis products would be subject to a 6.625% sales tax.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has
called for the “immediate decriminalization” of possession of small
amounts of marijuana. Herring also
hosted a Cannabis Summit to educate state leaders on accomplishing that
goal. Democratic legislators, who tend
to favor marijuana reform, now control the Commonwealth of Virginia’s House and
Senate. One piece of marijuana
legislation that has been filed for the state’s 2020 session, SB 2, would
decriminalize marijuana possession, raise the amount for a distribution charge
to one ounce versus half-an-ounce, and allow people to petition to expunge
US Cannabis Policy in 2020
The SAFE (Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking)
Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in September, would allow
cannabis companies to access banking and financial services blocked due to
federal prohibition. New cannabis
companies would gain access to business loans, rather than exchanging equity
for private investment. The impeachment
process has slowed progress, but it has also given lobbyists more time to win
over potential support from Senate Republicans.
The MORE (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment
and Expungement) Act would decriminalize the plant and offer an avenue for
expungement for those charged or convicted of some cannabis-related crimes, but
Republican opposition makes passage an uphill battle.
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is
reviewing cannabidiol (CBD) and has yet to issue formal guidance. The agency has issued warning letters to CBD
makers that make unsubstantiated health claims.
These claims have resulted in class action lawsuits filed against several
New regulation in
In California, two new laws clarify tax
laws. Senate Bill 34 allows licensed
cannabis retailers to donate cannabis to low-income patients and exempts those
products from state taxes. Assembly Bill
37 allows cannabis businesses to claim deductions and credits available to
other legal businesses in the state.
In Colorado, the first state to legalize, a
slate of new laws is poised to shift the cannabis landscape. New laws would allow for social consumption
businesses and for out-of-state and publicly traded companies to own licenses.