While the coronavirus pandemic derailed medical and adult use cannabis legalization efforts in state legislatures across the country last year, the momentum toward reform has persisted.
Just one month into 2021, Cannabis Wire used our Cannabis Bill Watch to sort through medical and adult use cannabis legalization bills in more than a dozen states, with others expected to join the list any day now. In some states, there are multiple proposals. And, in addition to bills outright legalizing medical or adult use, there are bills that would put the question to voters.
In short, there is an unprecedented level of cannabis-related activity in legislatures across the United States right now. Of course, not all of these states will join the dozens that have already legalized cannabis for medical use, or the fifteen (and Washington, D.C.) that have legalized for adult use.
But, it’s more than likely that some will. Here is an overview of the landscape today.
MEDICAL CANNABIS LEGALIZATION
State Senator Tim Melson has introduced SB 46. Last year, he introduced a medical cannabis bill that cleared the Senate, but ultimately died by session’s end.
The Senate Committee on Commerce has introduced SB 92.
Rep. Jason Nemes has introduced HB 136, and a similar bill has been introduced in the Senate, SB 92. Nemes’ medical cannabis legislation passed in the House last year, but didn’t get through the Senate by session’s end.
ADULT USE LEGALIZATION
Multiple adult use bills have been introduced, including SB 710 (the House version is HB 343), which was put forth by Senator Jeff Brandes, who introduced a similar bill last year, but it didn’t pass by session’s end.
Several adult use bills have been introduced, in both the House (including HB 7, HB 238, HB 1202) and the Senate (including SB 1376, SB 704, SB 767). Another bill, HB 421, would put the question to voters in 2022.
Maryland State Delegate Jazz Lewis has introduced HB 32, also known as the Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, Inclusion, Restoration, and Rehabilitation Act of 2021. (Read Cannabis Wire’s recent story about this effort, the first to propose putting tax revenue toward HBCUs.)
Two bills have been introduced in the House: HB 263 and HB 325. There is also House Joint Resolution 30, which would put the question to voters in 2022. (Last year, Missourians for a New Approach had to end its ballot push campaign amid COVID-19, as social distancing requirements complicated signature gathering.)
House lawmakers have introduced HB 237. Among the bill’s sponsors is Rep. Renny Cushing, who introduced a legalization bill last year that didn’t allow for sales, as a sort of compromise, considering the governor’s opposition. This year’s version does include sales.
For the third year in a row, Governor Andrew Cuomo has included legalization in his budget, and lawmakers have introduced their own proposal. (Read Cannabis Wire’s extensive coverage of the legalization push in the state, which could come to fruition in 2021.)
Rep. Scott Fetgatter has introduced HB 1961, which would put the “Oklahoma Adult Access to Marijuana Act of 2021” (detailed in the bill text) to voters in 2022.
A bill backed by Governor Ralph Northam is moving quickly through the legislature. (Read Cannabis Wire’s detailed coverage of the road to legalization in the state.)
Lawmakers have introduced a bill to legalize cannabis (LB 546), a bill to legalize medical cannabis (LB 474), and a bill to put the question of adult use legalization to voters in 2022 (LR 2CA). (A medical cannabis initiative qualified for the November 2020 ballot, as Cannabis Wire reported, only to be the first cannabis initiative to be stripped from a state ballot by a state Supreme Court.)
While more than one medical cannabis proposal has been put forth, the one with the strongest backing is the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act (S 150/H 3361). Another bill (S 268) would put adult use legalization to voters in 2022.
Multiple bills have been introduced to legalize cannabis (like SB 269), to expand the state’s medical cannabis program (like SB 250), or to put medical expansion (like HJR 28) or adult use legalization (SJR 16) to voters later this year.
In several states, adult use legalization bills are expected to drop any day now. Those states, where such bills have been introduced in the past, and where the governors strongly support adult use, include: Connecticut, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
Another any-day-now state includes Minnesota, where a bill is expected to be released Monday from House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, similar to the bill he introduced last year, though there is less momentum there than in the aforementioned states. Another state in this category, though no bill is imminent, is Wisconsin.