Every year, the cannabis industry expands slightly further, and new possibilities are born across the nation. Many of the few states that have yet to legalize the plant are talking about changing that, and as a result, 2023 is shaping up to be another powerhouse year for cannabis legalization. Delaware and Kentucky have already approved reform in Q1, and several other states are considering the matter.
Whether we’re talking medical or adult use, the plant is sure to make some national progress by the end of the year, inching us closer to national legalization and opening the doors for new brand creation, MSO expansion, and industry-wide innovation that speaks to an expanded market.
FIVE STATES THAT MIGHT LEGALIZE (A FORM OF) CANNABIS THIS YEAR
But while some have already been shot down, and others seem unlikely, there are some powerful contenders that industry experts are putting a lot of faith in when it comes to passing legislation.
New Hampshire’s Therapeutic Cannabis Program (TCP) was established in 2013, and a decade later, the state is attempting to pass adult-use legalization.
This isn’t The Granite State’s first go at cannabis legislation: the past few years have been defined by a variety of weed bills that pass the House only to get shot down in the Senate, and Governor Chris Sununu has been a vocal opponent.
Despite past setbacks, industry experts are hopeful about this year. The House has approved a new bill with no regulations or limitations on cannabis – something short and sweet that would remove the plant from the state’s list of controlled substances and allow for the expungement of past cannabis-related convictions.
The industry was hopeful for legalization in Minnesota last year, but the bill was blocked on the Senate floor at the last minute. Despite this setback, Governor Tim Walz has claimed that this year’s legislative session will prioritize cannabis legalization with the latest proposed adult-use bill.
March 14 saw a 9-4 vote in favor of the bill from the House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee, and the Senate State and Local Government and Veterans Committee passed it with an 8-5 vote – and a few amendments to the legislative language that placed a stricter purview over the sale of low-dose edibles.
Although Ohio’s GOP leaders fought hard to keep cannabis off the statewide ballot last year, advocates from the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) came back with a lawsuit, earning the number of signatures they needed to bring cannabis back into the conversation for 2023.
The proposed legislation currently sits with the Ohio General Assembly, who has until May 3 to make a decision. If they fail to pass or act on the proposal, CRMLA advocates will be required to get 124,000 more valid signatures in order to get the initiative on this year’s ballot.
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro and the state’s House Democrats have both voiced their support of adult-use cannabis legalization, but with Republicans still controlling the Senate and no clear call for legislation on the table, it seems pretty unlikely for 2023.
A couple of proposals are floating around among the House of Representatives, but no actual legislation has come of either, and no framework has been laid out.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have been discussing medical cannabis legalization in the Badger State. Republicans have mulled the topic, considering adding legalization to their next legislative agenda. Democratic state governor Tony Evers is a staunch proponent of legalization and is ready to move forward with reform.
While nothing has been introduced yet, the topic is a hot one, especially after it was revealed that the state is losing much-needed tax revenue to border states where cannabis is legal. One recent report said Wisconsinites bought $121 million worth of legal cannabis products in neighboring Illinois in 2022 alone.
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