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Cannabis Election Wins Are Inspiring Other States to Jump on the Legalization Train
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The fact that conservative states like South Dakota legalized weed before supposedly liberal states like New York is making many politicians double down on legalization efforts for 2020.
Published on November 5, 2020

Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey all voted to legalize adult-use cannabis this week, Mississippi legalized medical marijuana, and South Dakota actually did both. Following on the heels of these historic victories, leading politicians from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and New York renewed calls to renew their own states’ legalization efforts in 2020.

Matt Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, believes that New Jersey's legalization vote will create a domino effect that brings legal weed to neighboring East Coast states. “The alternative is New York and Pennsylvania are senselessly donating millions of dollars” to the Garden State’s new adult-use market, he explained to Marijuana Business Daily

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has already announced that he is planning to include adult-use legalization in the next state budget, and although the same tactic already failed this year, Cuomo remains hopeful that lawmakers will finally agree on the legislation by next April. And in a recent tweet, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio congratulated New Jersey for taking “an incredible step forward in criminal justice reform [that] will provide a huge boost to the economy.”

During a recent briefing, de Blasio said that it is time for New York to “do the right thing” by legalizing weed “in a way that’s safe and that empowers communities that have often suffered from the wrong kind of laws in the past,” Marijuana Moment reports. “At a point where we need resources — so we can serve people and provide such crucial services — this would be a big economic boost and bring in revenue we need. So hopefully that will soon be coming in this state as well.”

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont also just told the press that adult-use legalization measures are “on the table” for this year. “New Jersey has done this, Massachusetts is already legal, Rhode Island is looking at it, New York is looking at it — so I’ll be talking with my fellow governors about what, if anything, we want to do on a regional basis and then talking with the legislature as well.”

Although Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has only recently endorsed legal weed, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has been advocating for legalization for years now. After the election, Fetterman tweeted that New Jersey's new adult-use market will be “a Candyland of legal weed a 30 min drive or less for 40% of PA residents.” He also pointed out that “South Dakota, one of the most conservative states in America, VOTED FOR LEGAL WEED” and demanded “LEGAL WEED FOR PA. NOW.”

Arizona's successful bid for legal weed is also likely to inspire neighboring New Mexico to go green. Emily Kaltenbach, senior director of resident states and New Mexico for the Drug Policy Alliance, told Marijuana Moment that “Arizona will join Colorado as a destination for New Mexicans to purchase legal cannabis — Colorado already reports that nearly 40 percent of their sales are to out-of-state residents, many of those being New Mexicans in the northern part of the state who easily hop over the border to purchase.”

“Last night’s win in Arizona now offers communities in the Western and Southern part of the state... similar access,” Kaltenbach continued. “New Mexico will continue to see an outflow of dollars that could instead be cannabis tax revenue that the state could use to reinvest back into communities impacted by cannabis arrests.”

As uncertain as the results of the presidential and Congressional elections remain, there is still more than a glimmer of hope that 2020 will be renowned as a major tipping point in the battle for national cannabis reform.

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Chris Moore
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Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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