The green wave is already making splashes in red states this year, with marijuana legalization bills being introduced in at least six traditionally conservative states so far for 2019 sessions.
Lawmakers in Kentucky and West Virginia put forward pieces of legalization legislation Jan. 9, 2019, the latest in a growing list of states where the thought of lawmakers even considering full legalization would have been implausible just a couple of years ago.
Whether each of these bills has enough support to pass is another question. While marijuana reform is an increasingly bipartisan issue, there are various obstacles lawmakers will have to overcome — such as anti-legalization governors in some states.
West Virginia is a good example of that problem. On the same day that Democratic state Sen. Richard Ojeda introduced his bill to allow adults 21 and older to consume, possess, and cultivate cannabis for personal use, Republican Gov. Jim Justice emphasized that he is “adamantly, adamantly, etched-in-stone, adamantly against recreational marijuana” during a State of the State address.
Separately, Ojeda announced that he will be resigning from the state Senate by mid-January 2019 in order to focus on a 2020 presidential run.
In Kentucky, Republican state Sen. Dan Seum also filed legislation to fully legalize cannabis in the state on Wednesday. Unlike the noncommercial approach in the West Virginia bill, however, Seum's proposal would permit and tax retail marijuana sales.
Sen. Dan Seum on legalizing cannabis in #Kentucky
— Jason Maynard (@KYMMJason) January 9, 2019
In early January 2019, Virginia lawmakers put forward legalization legislation — two separate new proposals out of about a dozen marijuana-related bills that have been filed in the state this session. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam reiterated his support for the more modest step of decriminalization Jan. 9, saying the policy would “ease overcrowding in our jails and prisons, and free up our law enforcement and court resources for offenses that are a true threat to public safety.”
In Missouri, Democratic state Rep. Brandon Ellington wasted no time pushing for full legalization, pre-filing a bill in early December 2018 that would legalize possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana.
In Texas, a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis was among multiple marijuana-related pieces of legislation that were prefiled before the formal start of the session.
And New Jersey lawmakers are also considering several marijuana legalization bills, including one that was approved by legislative committees in late 2018.
“Lawmakers are increasingly finding ways to support legalization, regardless of their political ideology,” Carly Wolf, who was recently promoted to state policies coordinator at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), told Marijuana Moment. “The debunked stigma of 'Reefer Madness' is rapidly falling by the wayside and politicians of all stripes can now support establishing a commercial cannabis marketplace in a manner that is consistent with their worldview.”
This article has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content syndication agreement. Read the original article here.