Sunday, November 8, 2020
In what states (and how quickly) might we now see marijuana reform through the traditional legislative process?
I mentioned briefly in this post a few days ago that the big wins at the polls for marijuana reform in red and blue states nationwide will surely have all sorts of future reform echoes. As the question in the title of this post flags, I am especially intrigued to watch, in the short term, developments in various states in which we might reasonably expect the traditional legislative process to now take up reform.
The most obvious answer to the question in the post title flows from the big win for full legalization reform in New Jersey. That result, for reasons discussed a bit in this prior post, certainly should increase the likelihood of traditional legislative reforms neighboring New York and Pennsylvania and maybe even a few other mid-Atlantic and Northeast states. I have also seen mentioned that New Mexico might be a lot more likely to move forward with reforms now that legalization prevailed in Arizona.
But, of course, New Jersey ended up having a ballot initiative this election cycle because its legislature could not agree on a framework for legalization through the traditional legislative process. New Jersey demonstrated in 2019 that even when a legislature has "the will" for marijuana reform, it might not always readily find "the way." So even if legislatures in New York and other states now seriously commit themselves to full legalization, turning that kind of commitment into completed legislation can still prove challenging.
One final element to consider here are states that seem likely to have state legalization ballot initiatives in the works for 2022. In states like Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma and a few others, I wonder if legislatures might have the wisdom and foresight to consider moving forward with reform through the (somewhat controllable) legislative process rather than just allowing reform to be defined by the (advocate controlled) ballot initiative process. Interesting times.