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2019 is already shaping up to be a very dramatic year in terms of cannabis policy reform. There have been several exciting developments in a number of states that have received significant media attention. For example, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, outlined some basics of what legalization could look like in New York. During the State of the State speech delivered on Tuesday, January 15th, Cuomo described his plans for legalization, which would include initiatives to prioritize women and minorities as owners of cannabis businesses, as well locating cannabis businesses in economically depressed areas of the state.
Although there are many issues with the plan as proposed, it represents a substantial step in the right direction for one of the most influential (and most densely populated) states in the country. At the same time, the governor of Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo, has announced that she will include legalization in her budget proposal for the smallest of states in 2019.
In states that already have recreational or medical access, changes and expansions to existing programs, as well as a slow shift in the attitude of lawmakers and law enforcement, will likely continue to lead to positive changes regarding patient access. In Michigan, for example, the difficulty and expense involved in obtaining a license as a dispensary or commercial grower has proven so prohibitive that there is now a dearth of medical cannabis on the market.
The issue is so significant that the state government will allow for the reopening of cannabis businesses that were previously shut down. How the state actually addresses this issue in the long term as it also works on recreational access is anyone’s guess at this point. However, having a governor and an attorney general who support the will of the people, rather than their own political agenda, will no doubt facilitate improvements for patient access.
We have 11 and a half months left this year in which any of the other states may join the 10 that have already fully legalized adult use of cannabis. If momentum continues in the same way it has been in recent years, it is likely we will see significant reform in a number of states, as well as positive movement and others, before the end of the year.
As always, the activists here at Ladybud will do everything in our power to track developing situations and provide you with a fresh, ethical perspective on changes in cannabis policy and culture.
For previous Ladybud articles about policy reform, click here.