As Election Day draws near, several states in the US have prepared at least one ballot initiative for recreational cannabis legalization. At least three states have confirmed to have their residents vote on marijuana-related measures in November.
Even so, there are surprising disappointments too. Here are four states that will have to wait until 2021 or 2022 for a chance to legalize recreational cannabis.
This might come as a big surprise to residents of the Sunshine State that they wouldn’t go to the polls to decide on a recreational cannabis measure. Florida legalized medical cannabis in 2016 and stoners in the state had expected that 2020 would be the opportune time to vote on recreational cannabis legalization. However, in January this year, the state suspended the Make It Legal Florida campaign, which pushed for adult-use cannabis legalization until further notice. Residents will now have to wait until maybe 2022 to revive their campaign.
On the outlook, New York appeared to have a relatively good chance of legalizing adult-use cannabis in 2020. However, that’s not going to happen. About half of all US states do not have the referendum process, which is another way of saying that all cannabis-related amendments must pass through the state’s legislature.
Toward the end of March, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) stated that marijuana legalization was “not likely” to feature in the state’s fiscal budget. And as Marijuana Moment earlier pointed out, there was no marijuana-related item in the revised budget bills. The governor primarily blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for complicating the budget discussions, which he said made cannabis legalization too much of a task, at least for the time being.
This is the second time that New York’s recreational cannabis talks have stalled. In the first quarter of 2019, the discussions were derailed after legislators disagreed on social equity factors that were included in the process.
While it’s clear that Florida and New York will not vote on cannabis this coming November, there’s still a ray of hope for Ohio. The Buckeye State has two recreational cannabis initiatives in the pipeline for the 2020 ballot. Unfortunately, none of the measures is likely to be ready by Election Day.
The biggest snag is the Coronavirus pandemic. With only a short time remaining, proponents have to collect and verify almost 453,000 signatures within three weeks “before regulators can even consider putting a recreational weed initiative on the state’s ballot.” This is not going to be possible with the social distancing and stay-at-home orders occasioned by the pandemic.
Lastly, Missouri residents will have to wait until next year or up to 2022 to have a shot at recreational cannabis legalization. For the Show-Me State, chances of legalizing adult-use cannabis in 2020 are very slim.
Cannabis proponents in the state had coined Missourians for a New Approach campaign, which pushed for recreational cannabis legalization. However, in mid-April, the campaign came to a grinding halt. Just like the case of Ohio, the COVID-19 pandemic complicated the collection of signatures, as the Springfield Newsletter earlier reported.
With Election Day only less than five months away, one of the attention-grabbing stories for 2020 is which states will “go green.” However, despite the efforts aimed at marijuana legalization this year, it’s apparent that residents of these states could wait for up to one or two more years before recreational cannabis is legalized.