By Madeline Grant, NCIA’s Government Relations Manager
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve talked a lot about what is happening at the federal level – with the passage of the SAFE Banking in the House of Representative, the reintroduction of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, and the introduction of many bills, we’ve seen the momentum continue to rise in the 117th Congress. So this week, I’m going to go over numerous updates happening at the state level. When we see movement at the state level, this directly correlates to success at the federal level, although not immediate. Think about it… more constituents voting in support of cannabis initiatives and more state legislators speaking in favor of moving cannabis measures means more overall support in the United States. That support at the local and state levels streamlines up to members of Congress at the federal level. So let’s take a look at a few updates in the states.
In Wyoming, lawmakers failed to pass a bill to legalize marijuana this session. However, last week two measures were submitted to the state to place medical cannabis legalization and adult-use decriminalization measures before voters on the 2022 ballot.
Last week, Governor Ned Lamont (D) said he’ll be upset if the legislature fails to deliver him a bill to legalize marijuana in a special session that is set to take place this week. The Senate approved a legalization proposal in the final days of the regular session last week, but an expected House vote was called off as time ran short in the face of Republican opposition and threats to a filibuster.
Ohio, South Carolina, and West Virginia
The Sensible Movement Coalition (SMC), an Ohio-based marijuana group, is helping campaigns in West Virginia and South Carolina get cannabis decriminalization on their local ballots this year. SMC has traditionally pushed for reforms within Ohio – and has seen multiple successes in getting decriminalization enacted there – they’re now lending expertise to activist-led campaigns in other traditionally conservative states.
Marijuana activists are gearing up for a “mass scale” campaign to put medical cannabis legalization on the state’s 2022 ballot after the state legislature failed to pass a bill to enact the reform this session.
For the first time in Rhode Island, a bill to legalize cannabis for recreational use has advanced in the state. The Judiciary Committee approved a marijuana legalization bill that’s being championed by leadership in the chamber.
Texas and Louisiana
The governors of Texas and Louisiana on Thursday separately indicated that they will sign marijuana reform bills that have recently been delivered to their desks.
A vote on a marijuana legalization bill that was scheduled in the House of Representatives was canceled, despite attempts to propose amendments to reach the three-fifths supermajority support. Rep. Edward Osienski (D), who filed the measure, said lawmakers need more time to consider a series of proposed changes before reaching a consensus and moving forward.
A newly formed progressive coalition that’s being led by two former Democratic congressional candidates, Julie Oliver and Mike Siegel, is aiming to take cannabis and other issues directly to voters by putting reform measures on local ballots across the state. Although Texas legislators made progress this session on some marijuana policy changes, activists were hoping for more. The new coalition, Ground Game Texas, works to engage voters on issues like marijuana reform that are popular among young people and Democrats.
These are just a few of the many updates that are happening state by state. It’s extraordinary to see the momentum building throughout the country with the help of advocates and public support. I implore you to get involved with state initiatives to propel cannabis policy reform forward, as every person has a voice to be heard. To keep updated on what’s happening at the state level please be sure to check out our state policy map that can be found HERE. Additionally, I would love the opportunity to hear from you about the difficulties you face in the cannabis space. If you have the time please feel free to email me at Madeline@TheCannabisIndustry.org.