2019 is shaping up to be a good year for cannabis legalization advocates and supporters. As the talk around cannabis becomes more mainstream, an increasing number of states are taking steps towards ending prohibition. Ten states currently allow adult consumption for recreational purposes, while medicinal use is allowed in 33. New ballot measures and governmental considerations are continuing to pop up at the state and federal level making the push towards legalization more of an inevitability than ever before. Here is a look at several states that could make moves towards cannabis legalization this year.
A recent vote by the state’s House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee narrowly passed by one vote in February, approving a recommendation to approve House Bill 481. This bill would legalize recreational cannabis consumption for adults 21 and older while allowing them to possess up to an ounce of flower and six plants per individual. The governor, Republican Chris Sununu, has made statements suggesting he would veto any cannabis legislation, but with enough votes in the House and Senate, this veto could be overridden.
Ohio attempted a vote for legalization in 2015 that failed but a nearly similar measure could appear on the state ballot in November: The Marijuana Rights and Regulations Amendment, would allow for the consumption and possession of cannabis for adults 21 and over. Medical use has been legal here since 2016, but growing support and a reboot of the proposed amendment could pave the way for recreational use in 2019.
New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham just recently signed State Bill 323 which has officially decriminalized cannabis possession of up to a half ounce. Both the New Mexico Senate and House have recently voted to approve bills to set up a system for legalization. Unfortunately, after passing House approval, one of these bills died on the floor of the Senate Finance Committee. But, there is still a chance for legalization in 2019.
In February, a state Senate Committee unanimously passed a bill in support of full legalization for adults 21 and older. This vote does not put anything in place immediately but sets up the possibility of an end to cannabis prohibition on the island state later in 2019, with more legislators moving towards support of the advancement.
Within the last few weeks Georgia’s Governor, Brian Kemp, signed into law HB 324, also known as the Hope Act. This act allows for medical patients to obtain low THC level cannabis oil. A 2015 state bill allowed residents to register for up to 20 fluid ounces of cannabis oil with a THC content of up to 5% for medical use. The recent approval of the Hope Act sets up the framework for how these patients can access medicinal cannabis oil by designating producers and allowing sale at pharmacies and potentially private dispensaries.