2019 Makes Marijuana History, Sets Up 2020 Momentum

By Angela Underwood

If 2020 resembles 2019 regarding the recreational use of cannabis; more milestones are coming down the pike.

Rather than read a few introductory sentences on how the marijuana movement is quickly taking down years of prohibition, let’s just get right to the point since 2020 is just two days away.

Illinois Legalizes Weed by Legislative Process

It all started in late June when Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed HB 1438 into law, making marijuana recreationally legal in the 11th U.S. state, including the District of Columbia. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports like Vermont, the Land of Lincoln’s approval came through the legislative process rather than a ballot initiative. That’s big.

When state leaders solely take up the cause like Pritzker, it leads the way for other governors to make the move as seen with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his East Coast peers at the October Pot Summit. Connecticut Gov. Ted Lamont of Connecticut, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolff jointed Cuomo to discuss a regional push for recreational weed rather than tackle the topic state-by-state.  

Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE)Act

Next up was the SAFE Act, which passed through the House of Representatives in September by 321-103, five years after it was first introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) in 2014 when Colorado first legalized adult-use cannabis.

Perlmutter told The New York Daily Weed Report it “was clear to me without access to the banking system, these legitimate and legal businesses under state law were going to be forced to operate solely in cash, creating a significant public safety risk.”

He was right; five years later the billion-dollar business is on the verge of having free flowing cash moving through the industry without any federal regulations or safeguards.

Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment Expungement (MORE) Act

Even more significant was Congress propelling forth MORE by 24-10, making it the first vote in Congress to decriminalize cannabis since prohibition began in 1934. As of October, the NCSL reports that the District of Columbia along with 26 states have already decriminalized the possession of minute amounts of marijuana.  As of Jan. 11, 2020, the possession of three grams or less of cannabis will only be carry a $130 penalty, while other states are making it a low-level misdemeanor rather than state infraction.

Along with decriminalization, marijuana reform bills are continuously coming out of separate states faster than ever before as states attempt to keep up with each other. Needless to say, the persistent permission to smoke pot is looking better every day as lawmakers realize there is no longer a choice but to change with the times.

Major League Baseball Removes Marijuana from Drug List

In response to the July death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs from an overdose of alcohol and prescription pills, Major League Baseball revamped its drug policy in September.

Along with adding more drugs of abuse, like oxycodone and cocaine, to the list of banned substances, MLB became the first of the four major sports to remove marijuana.

“Players are overwhelmingly in favor of expanding our drug-testing regimen to include opioids and want to take a leadership role in helping to resolve this national epidemic,” Tony Clark, Executive Director of the MLBPA, said.

The new policy will treat marijuana similarly to alcohol under the Joint Treatment Program for Alcohol-Related and Off-Field Violent Conduct.

New Jersey 2020 Ballot Initiate to Legalize Weed

Quite significant to The New York Daily Weed Report, is the Garden State’s 2020 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. Since approving medicinal marijuana in 2010, Jersey residents, like many Americans, have changed their point of view on pot.

At the end of 2018, Gallup, the nation’s largest analytical and advisory company, reported two in three U.S. citizens support legalizing cannabis, noting that the 66% approval “marks the third consecutive year that support on the measure has increased and established a new record.”

Stats like that suggest one outcome; the Garden State may become its brightest green ever when voters approve legalizing weed in the fall of 2020.

A Call for Congress to Apologize About the War on Drugs

If it was up to Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) Congress would immediately issue an apology for the racially and economically disparate ways the War on Drugs have been enforced. Coleman contends that the MORE Act alone is not enough recompense for the discriminatory actions, and an actual “I am sorry,” should take place.

Whether or not that will ever come to pass remains to be seen. What is certain is Congress’s consideration of cannabis dramatically changing after almost a half century of prohibition.   

As if the aforementioned milestones were not enough, consider how several 2020 presidential candidates are promoting recreational use on their platforms, with candidates like Bernie Sanders promising to sign an executive order legalizing weed within the first 100 days of office if elected.

Or how Canada’s rollout of recreational use and Mexico’s consideration of the same have placed America between two countries that consider cannabis a legal substance. Add in celebrity ganjapreneurs breaking into the billion-dollar business with their respective brands, and well the litany of love for weed goes on.

As that love transfers from 2019 to 2020, the New York Daily Weed Report looks forward to giving readers the latest on what promises to be an exciting year for marijuana.