There is no doubt that 2020 is going to be a wild year in the cannabis law reform community. As someone who covers and opines on marijuana news on a daily basis, I know there will not be a shortage of things to analyze.
Furthermore, 2020 is an important year for the community. With the legal industry struggling under the weight of heavy regulations and high taxes in many places in the U.S. and stock prices falling for several months, more places selling legal marijuana are desperately needed. Politically, while there was some progress in 2019 on the federal level, there are many roadblocks to further progress and a lot of decisions that voters make in November will determine the success of marijuana law reform federally in 2021.
To get a better idea of what we can expect to see next year, I got a series of predictions from Don Murphy, Director of Federal Policies at the Marijuana Policy Project. “Call me optimistic, but if even half of this comes true, it will be a very Happy New Year,” Don told The Marijuana Times.
On the state legislative front, Don said he expects victories for adult-use legalization in New York, Connecticut, New Mexico and Delaware. He expects Vermont’s legislature to legalize and regulate adult-use sales while three southern states – Kentucky, Alabama and South Carolina – very well could legalize medical cannabis.
As for legislation on the federal level, Don said, “After failing to garner enough support from either party for an up or down vote, the SAFE Banking Act will be buried in a must-pass bill which will be signed by the President with little fanfare. The cannabis industry, bankers, realtors and insurance concerns will celebrate. Drug policy and criminal justice advocates will not.”
At the ballot box in New Jersey, Don expects voters to do what legislators in the state couldn’t: legalize adult-use cannabis. Regarding other state ballot attempts, Don said, “[e]ven though the remaining initiative states are getting ‘redder’ there will be a record number of wins at the ballot box 2020. As per usual, voters will cast more votes for pot than pols.”
Don saved his most extensive predictions for the campaigns of 2020, of which there will be many.
“Former Rep. Pete Sessions (TX) will lose his bid for the GOP nomination in part due to his hardline stance on marijuana policy. He will be hurt by attacks from veteran’s groups for his opposition to the Blumenauer Amendment.
“At least one Republican will be defeated due to the changing turnout demographics of a ballot initiative (see Mia Love 2018).
“Former Sen. Jeff Sessions (AL) will endure some of the same attacks from veterans groups but will survive, returning to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2021. If as expected, Alabama becomes a medical marijuana state in 2020, Senator re-elect Sessions will be much less of a drug warrior.
“Assuming the Democratic Party nominates Joe Biden, President Trump will exploit his criminal justice record by advocating for, or perhaps issuing an executive order, regarding drug policy reform. Expect an executive branch policy change regarding veteran’s access and research if the congress fails to act before the August recess.
“The Republican National Convention will include a 10th Amendment friendly marijuana plank in its 2020 Platform.
“In anticipation of the 2024 presidential election, both Republican and Democratic hopefuls will begin incorporating drug policy reform into their talking points.”
Two things are for sure: a lot will happen next year, and there’s a good chance I’ll forget to come back to this post in a year to see how Don did with his predictions. But you never know, crazier things have happened. Not marijuana-will-be-federally-legal-this-time-next-year crazy, but crazy nonetheless.