With the signature of Gov. Ralph Northam expected later this week, Virginia will become the 16th state to legalize cannabis for adult use—although legalization won’t actually take effect until 2024.
Who’s likely to follow Virginia? There are a number of serious contenders.
At least 12 state legislatures have recreational legalization measures on the table right now, which is a typical number for this time of year. But unlike previous years, in which all but one or two states scrapped their plans right away, as many as five states have a realistic shot at actually passing adult-use, insiders say.
“The pressure is really on lawmakers at every level of government to take action,” said Carly Wolf, NORML’s state policies director. “Public and political support has only continued to increase.”
About three-quarters of U.S. states allow some form of medical marijuana and 15 states also permit adult-use.
Here’s what’s happening in the states most seriously considering adult-use legalization, in order of most-likely to least-likely.
New Mexico’s Democrat-controlled House and Senate has until March 20 to choose between five adult-use bills, which include four initiatives outlining the framework for the new program and a Republican-sponsored bill that takes aim at the illicit market.
The most likely scenario for the final bill is an amended proposal that combines the best of each of the five current bills. The legislature’s priorities include finding a way to subsidize medical cannabis for low-income patients, providing state grants for minority communities most affected by prohibition, and wiping out previous low-level marijuana convictions.
The biggest question is whether New Mexico will follow in the footsteps of Nevada and Illinois by limiting the number of cultivators and dispensaries or opt for a more open-market approach like Oregon and Colorado.
Once passed through New Mexico’s legislature, the adult-use initiatives will almost