THIS YEAR is shaping up to see a number of states legalizing cannabis sales to some degree, either for medicinal use or recreational use.

Marijuana Business Daily reported that the chances are good that at least eight states could either legalize marijuana for adult use or medical use this year, either through the initiative or legislative process.

Up until now, the preferred method for legalizing cannabis use has been through the ballot and typically, medicinal use laws precede recreational use laws, and that remains true this year. That said, governors and lawmakers in a number of states are openly saying that legalization is a priority for them this year.

The other big dynamic is in a number of New England states, which are feeling pressured to act. They are all seeing residents drive to buy their marijuana in Maryland, which legalized recreational use in 2014.

The laws are getting more uniform as well, as states considering legalization can use the laws of states that have legalized before them as reference when crafting their own measures.

The following is a list of the states that either have legislation or ballot measures in the works or where the chances are high that some effort will be made this year.

Alabama (medical):

A special panel commissioned by the state legislature voted to recommend that the state legalize marijuana for medical use. The commission approved draft legislation to legalize medical marijuana for certain diagnosed conditions, but bar smokable flower and edibles.

Arizona (adult recreational use):

At least one initiative looks destined to be on the November ballot which would legalize the possession, consumption, cultivation and sale of marijuana for adults. A similar measure failed to pass in 2016.

Connecticut (adult recreational use):

Connecticut lawmakers have said it’s a legislative priority to legalize adult use of marijuana this year, although no legislation has been introduced at this point. More and more Connecticut residents are driving to Maryland to buy cannabis.

Kentucky (medical):

The author of a medical marijuana bill that passed out of a House committee in 2019 but didn’t receive a vote on the House floor, has reintroduced the bill for 2020. Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, said that he’s confident the House will pass his bill this year, although the Senate may represent more of a hurdle. Kentucky’s Democratic governor supports the measure.

Mississippi (medical):

Under the proposal put forth by Mississippians for Compassionate Care, patients suffering from debilitating medical issues would be able to access cannabis after consulting with a physician and receiving a recommendation.

Montana (adult recreational use):

Montana has two competing ballot initiatives for recreational use. One would set the age of legal use at 21, while the other measure sets it at 18.

New Hampshire (adult recreational use):

New Jersey (adult recreational use): Lawmakers voted to put the issue on the November ballot, where it has a good chance of passing. The initiative is broadly written, meaning the state would decide licensing specifics later.

New Mexico (adult recreational use):

New Mexico’s governor formally called on lawmakers to legalize marijuana this year after a working group she created issued a roadmap for legalization of recreational use. A measure fell short in 2019, but pundits seem positive the bill will reach the governor’s desk and that she will sign it.

New York (adult recreational use):

 Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing for a measure to legalize marijuana, but new legislation has yet to surface. Efforts to pass legislation in 2019 were hampered by disputes over where the cannabis businesses should be located and how tax proceeds should be spent.

South Dakota (adult recreational use and medical):

A November ballot will include two measures: one that would legalize medical use and another that would legalize adult recreational use, the latter of which includes a 15% sales tax.

Vermont (commercial sales):

After adult use and home cultivation was legalized in 2018, Vermont’s state Senate voted to
approve commercial sales last year – and it looks like the House of Representatives is about to do the same.

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