Last week we brought you a series of predictions from Don Murphy of the Marijuana Policy Project regarding what will happen in the cannabis community and industry this year. I’ve decided to stay on that theme, and delve into some more predictions for 2020, including my own.
First, I want to preface all of this by saying that politics is weird. For those who don’t remember the world before President Trump, things were much more predictable in politics and followed much more of a pattern. It seemed wild then, but we really just didn’t know what wild was.
Trump is wild. He’s unpredictable and impulsive and is certain of his decision-making ability. There is absolutely no way to gauge what he will do, which affects the far reaches of political discourse in America and the world. It even affects the course of cannabis law reform, especially on the federal level.
Between impeachment and the 2020 Election and the 50 other things Trump will do that we can’t even think about right now, there is going to be little focus left for marijuana issues in Washington D.C.
But this is nothing new. Until last year, there was really no such thing as progress on the federal level for cannabis law reform. The bread and butter of politics has always been local, and when it comes to marijuana, this means the states.
I’m certainly a cynic when it comes to state legislatures and their ability to advance adult-use legalization. In 2019, we saw just what can happen in supposedly “blue” states like New Jersey. A year of failure has led to a ballot question later this year; that’s when NJ will finally get legalization done. We saw similar stalls for recreational legalization in places like New York and Connecticut: I hope that’s not a pattern that continues, but I fear it will.
To be fair, Illinois did legalize through the legislature, but there is no doubt the road to legalization seems easier via the ballot box.
Going that route is, as I’ve mentioned before, the big dog in terms of legalization victories possible in 2020 – Florida. If voters are allowed to decide the issue, I predict the 60% of the vote needed will be reached and the measure will be successful. It is still up in the air, however, as to whether or not voters will get the chance.
“As more and more states mature their experiments with legalization, lawmakers and the public continue to be persuaded to support an end to marijuana prohibition and criminalization,” Justin Strekal, Political Director for NORML, told The Marijuana Times. “In 2020, it is likely that this support will lead to policy changes such as decriminalization in Virginia, medical cannabis in a number of southern states, and outright legalization in New Mexico.”
I also believe voters in Arizona will finally decide to legalize adult-use marijuana in 2020, if given the chance.
In the end, it will be a year of victories on the state level and little movement on the federal level. The cannabis industry will continue to grow, but not at its full potential as taxes and regulations continue to weigh it down.
Most importantly, the cannabis community will keep much-needed momentum into 2021, which could very well end up being the year cannabis is legalized on the federal level.