The new year is already shaping up to be a big one for marijuana reform. And activists and lawmakers are finding allies in governors across the country, with numerous State of the State addresses and budget speeches including calls for legalization.
From New York to New Mexico, top policymakers have signaled that cannabis policy reform is a legislative priority for 2021. To date, at least 11 governors have proactively brought up marijuana in their formal addresses, budget plans or press briefings so far, with more expected to come.
While the governors might not be able to unilaterally enact the reforms they’re seeking, their support for the issue could significantly improve the chances of cannabis policy changes succeeding this year, at least in some states.
Here’s a look at what governors are saying about marijuana policy in 2021:
Gov. Ned Lamont (D) included a call to legalize cannabis in his annual State of the State address in January, stating that the policy change is “happening all around us” in neighboring states.
“Let’s not surrender these opportunities to out-of-state markets or, even worse, underground markets,” he said.
The governor followed up the next month by including a legalization proposal in his 2021 budget request.
Lamont, who convened an informal work group in recent months to make recommendations on the policy change, said his budget plan will involve establishing a “comprehensive framework for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, possession, use, and taxation of cannabis that prioritizes public health, public safety, and social justice.”
As lawmakers introduced marijuana reform bills, the governor of Kansas earlier this month unveiled a plan to legalize