The Democratic-farmer-labour Party (DFL) in Minnesota has won the “trifecta” — control of both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office — for the first time in ten years.
There’s also the marijuana aroma coming from state representative Jessica Hanson’s direction.
Hanson, now spending his second term in the legislature after beginning his career in politics as the head of a group that pushed for legalisation, is one of the co-sponsors of the bipartisan adult-use legalisation bill that was reintroduced in the legislature last week.
Having passed the state House last year, the bill is anticipated to meet with more support from the DFL-controlled Senate this session.
Hanson, who is believed to be the first avowed cannabis consumer elected to state office in Minnesota, said, “We elected folks at a grassroots level to the Legislature in this state that cares about this subject.”
In 2023, states all across the country will follow Minnesota’s lead, where the Democratic governor has pledged to sign a legalisation measure into law due to the state’s optimistic outlook and renewed enthusiasm for legalisation.
According to MJBizDaily’s sources, there is a significant likelihood that marijuana will be legalised for adult use in at least four states this year: Ohio, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania, in addition to Minnesota.
On March 7, Oklahomans will head to the polls to decide whether or not to legalise cannabis in a special election.
This appears to be the first time in American history that marijuana has appeared on a ballot unaccompanied by any other measures or candidates.
A well-funded and organised campaign to qualify legalisation for the November ballot in that state is already operational unless the Ohio General Assembly overcomes recent reluctance and endorses a voter-initiated measure by May 3.
Although many details in state legislatures, such as questions of the local authority, social equality, and other issues, are still waiting, even that possible dispute is positive for Hanson.
She told MJBizDaily, “We’re having a fight at the Capitol over how to legalise, not whether or not to legalise.”
Supporters in other areas believe the moment is right to begin laying the framework for more far-reaching victories, and they are already formulating strategies for states like North Carolina, Indiana, and New Hampshire.
Legalization advocates in the 2022 midterm elections won two seats and lost three seats, setting the stage for this year’s state action.
Where Marijuana Is Legal in The United States
State Legislators in Pennsylvania, Like Their Counterparts in Minnesota, Are Making a Renewed, Serious Effort to Legalise Cannabis for Adult Use. the Political Climate in Pennsylvania Has Recently Been More Favourable, Which Bodes Well for Legalisation Efforts.
There Is Robust Bipartisan Support for Legalisation in Pennsylvania, and The Governor Has Even Endorsed It. However, the Odds Are a Little Longer There Because the Legislature Is Now Split Between the Republicans and The Democrats.
Former U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (r-Pa) Was Asked to Back the Safe Banking Act in Congress by A Group of Republican State Senators.
They Will Be Asked Again to Back a Legalisation Bill Filed in October 2021 by Democratic State Senator Sharif Street and Republican State Senator Dan Laughlin.
They’ve Promised to Give It Another Go This Year. until A Special Election to Fill Two Open Seats in The State House on February 7, However, There Will Be No Majority Party in The Chamber.
Past Hurdles Give Way
Despite This Intricacy, Bipartisan Legalisation Proposals Have Made Some Progress in Minnesota and Pennsylvania Before Encountering Largely Political Barriers that Have Since Been Removed or Loosened.
For Instance, in Minnesota, the House Approved Legalisation in May of Last Year, but The Senate, Where Republicans Hold a Majority, Did Not.
Hanson Told MJ Biz Daily that Lobbying Some Democrats in The Senate Is Still Necessary, but That Doing so Should Be Less of A Challenge.
She Predicted that “some People Are Going to Need to Be Educated.” Several Democrats in The Senate “will Be Worried, Nervous, and Scared.”
Concerns About a Potential Economic Downturn, as Federal Funding for The Response to The Covid-19 Pandemic Dries up And State Governments Look for Alternative Cash Streams, May Also Increase Support for Legalisation.
After the $2 Billion Success of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Sector and The 2022 Openings of Recreational Markets in Neighbouring New Jersey and New York, Industry Proponents Feel Reticent Lawmakers Under More Pressure to Move Forward with Adult-Use Legalisation in Pennsylvania.
Meredith Buettner, Executive Director of The Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition, Which Lobbies on Behalf of Multistate Operators, Said that The Party’s Strong Showing “certainly Gives Us the Best Chance that We’ve Had in Several Years,” Regardless of Whether or Not Democrats End up With an Outright Majority in The State Legislature.
Newly Elected Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro, a Legalisation Proponent, Will Take Office in Pennsylvania on January 17. the State Has a $2 Billion Budget Deficit in Fiscal 2023-24, Which Will Put More Pressure on Him to Find New Revenue Sources.
It’s Possible that He’ll Use a Revenue-Generating Argument in His State Budget Proposal, the First Big Policy Address of His Term.
Including Marijuana Might Show that Legalisation Is a Top Priority, According to Buettner.
As for Buettner, “I’ll Be Considerably More Bullish” if Shapiro Brings up Legalising. Yet, “we’re in A Better Circumstance than We’ve Been In.”
Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota Shares Shapiro’s Support for Legalisation and An A+ Rating from Norml’s Voter Guide.
Walz Has Assured Interviewers that He Will Sign Any Bill that Is Sent to Him by Lawmakers.
Action Back at The Ballot
On March 7, Oklahomans Will Go to The Polls to Decide Whether or Not to Legalise Medical Marijuana, and The State’s Libertarian Leanings Are Thought to Put the Odds in Favour of Legalisation.
There Has Been a Substantial Accumulation Already.
Some Supporters of Legalisation Had Hoped to Have the Issue on The Ballot in November of 2022, but Their Efforts Were Thwarted by A Confusing Chain of Bureaucratic Red Tape and Legal Obstacles.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court Decided a Few Weeks Before the November Election that The Issue Will Be Put to Voters in A General or Special Election in 2024.
Republican Governor Kevin Stitt, Who Has Publicly Opposed Legalisation, Called for The Unusual Election by Issuing an Executive Proclamation.
However, Proponents of Measure 820 Argue that The Circumstance Is Unusual Enough that Voter Turnout Will Be Crucial Even in The Off-Year Election.
Yes on 820 Campaign Director Michelle Tilley Told MJ Biz Daily Over the Phone, “we Are Cautiously Hopeful – I Guess That’s the Best Way to Phrase It.”
“We Have Conducted Polling, and The Results Have Been Positive.
However, This Is a Complicated Scenario Because the Election on March 7 Is a Special Election and Most People Aren’t Used to Voting in It.
Next, We’ll Shift Our Focus to Ohio, Where We Anticipate a Similar Protracted Struggle Will End in 2023.
There, Republican Leadership in The General Assembly Had Previously Blocked Competing Legalisation Initiatives Offered by The Democrats and The Republicans.
Separately, Proponents of A Well-Funded Voter Initiative Campaign Had a Public Dispute with Legislators and The Secretary of State About Whether or Not Signatures Had Been Presented on Time.
Legal Negotiations Resulted in A Compromise that Gave the General Assembly Four Months, Beginning on January 3, to Decide Whether to Adopt Legalisation.
In that case, a Petition Push to Get Legalisation on The Ballot in November Will Pick up Where It Left Off.
The Marijuana Industry and Legacy Advocacy Groups See the Oklahoma and Ohio Initiatives as Important and Realistic Enough to Garner Substantial Funding.
According to Filings, Yes on 820 Received $2.74 Million in Campaign Contributions by The End of September, the Vast Majority of Which Came from Lobbying Groups.
Throughout 2018, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Ohio Is Expected to Raise and Spend More than $1.5 Million in Support of Their Cause.
Tom Haren, a Cleveland Attorney and Coalition Spokeswoman, Said, “most Ohioans Consider Legalisation as Inevitable.”
“Just Making Sure that Voters in Ohio Have a Chance to Weigh in Is All That’s Needed.
No of How Many People Actually Show up To the Polls in November, I’m Confident that The Majority of Them Will Vote in Favour of Legalisation.
Long Shot, Long View
Voter Initiatives Have Been Used by 29 States to Legalise Cannabis for Adults, but This Method Has Political and Practical Drawbacks.
If State Legislatures Take Initiative on Marijuana Policy Reform Instead of Leaving It Up To the People, Observers Think Congress Will Feel More Pressure to Act.
However, the Legislature Is Sometimes the Only Alternative in States that Still Prohibit Adult-Use Sales. Voter Initiative Measures Are Severely Restricted or Non-existent in Most of These States.
Also, According to Drug Policy Expert and Carnegie Mellon University Professor Jonathan Caulkins, “voter Initiatives Often Yield Lousy Legislation,” Especially in Complex Subjects Like Cannabis Legalisation.
He remarked that Such Statutes Are Typically Cumbersome and Hard to Alter. Furthermore, They May Face Legal Obstacles.
Following a Lawsuit Supported by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, the South Dakota Supreme Court Struck Down a 2020 Measure that Allowed Adult Use in The State.
In Mississippi, Too, a Voter-Approved Mmj Law Was Invalidated by The Courts, but The State Legislature Eventually Passed a Separate Bill Legalising Cannabis for Medical Use.
Meanwhile, Plans to Legalise Medical Marijuana (mm) Are in The Works in North Carolina and South Carolina, and Even More Far-Fetched Laws to Legalise Recreational Cannabis Have Been Introduced in Indiana and New Hampshire.
The Senior Policy Analyst at The Virginia-Based Libertarian Think Tank Americans for Prosperity, Which Is Funded by The Billionaire Charles Koch, Jeremiah Mosteller, Is “hyper Focused” on Convincing Republicans that Legalisation Is a Bipartisan Winner Popular with Voters Rather than A Partisan Issue that Gives Democrats a Win in Those States.
He clarified that The Message Is Not that “we’re Pro-Cannabis, but We’re Anti-Prohibition” by Introducing Listeners to Veterans and Medical Patients who have experienced the drug’s positive effects firsthand.